2016 Forestry & Wildlife Program – Nov 1st


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October 13, 2016 · 2:11 PM

What Is The Value Of My Hay?

We’ve been blessed with more rain overall compared to other parts of the state. We had a slow spring with a very dry April and May and some weird fertility issues to start the season. Below is bermuda field picture taken in May. You can see the yellow tint in parts of the field that we thought was related to fertility.


Many producers have cut hay three and four times. Our rain has been decent in amount, but it has all come at once. We started very dry, then would get 7″ and 9″ at a time. The summer was fair with more timely rain. We got dry before the tropical storm, and then had lots of rain from Hermine.


Today we did a forage sample to test hay quality. This is very important in determining if we need to supplement our hay. Will Lovett, Ag Agent in Bacon County writes a really good article on the value of your hay:

One of the most common questions I get asked as an extension agent is “What is the value of my hay?”  This common question does not have a simple answer. What I tell producers…. is it depends.

The first step in developing a value for your hay is determining your cost of production. This is important whether you plan to sell your hay or feed it yourself. The best way to establish your cost of production is by calculating your hay cost per ton or per bale. As you begin this process you will need to your fixed and variable costs. Fixed costs will include line items such as interest, rental, depreciation, taxes, insurance, etc. One thing I always advise my clients is to be sure and include machinery costs in their calculations, because as we all know eventually our equipment will need to be replaced.   Fixed cost may vary significantly between producers depending on the number of bales produced per year and each person’s investment in equipment. Variable cost will fluctuate with the level of production. Variable costs include items such as fertilizers, chemicals, labor, fuel, etc.

The following formula would be used to calculate cost per bale or ton.

Total Cost per ton(bale)=   Total Fixed Costs + Total Variable Costs

                                                                Total tons(bales) produced

As you move forward with cost determination, those who are planning on selling their hay need to be aware of what the market is willing to pay. Many niche or specialty markets, such as “horse quality” square bales can command a significant premium per ton over round bales. Take the time to investigate your area and include your findings when determining your selling price.

If you are producing hay for your own use or plan to market your hay based on Forage Quality, you need to know the nutrient composition of your hay. The concentration of nutrients (Crude Protein, TDN, Fiber Content or digestibility) cannot be determined by the feel, texture, smell or color. Just using these parameters can often times lead producers astray.


The photo below is a good example. Even though the bales in Lot 1 are sun bleached they actually test higher in overall nutrient content.

The only way to determine the true quality of a forage is to Forage Test. The average cost of a forage test is less than one round bale of hay. UGA’s recommendation is to sample each cutting of forage from each field. The information you gain from forage testing will allow you or your customer to make more informed feeding/supplement decisions. Table 1 shows how forage quality effects the supplement needs, i.e. cost of a lactating beef cow.


Table 1. The effect of bermudagrass and tall fescue maturity on hay quality, supplementation rate, and cost of supplementing a lactating beef cow.

So why not just use table 1 to estimate quality for my hay?

Even a small change in nutrient value can have an impact on hays’ dollar value. Using the nutrient ranges in the chart above, Good Bermudagrass Hay cut at 4 week intervals will range in “average” nutrient value from 10-12% for crude protein and 58-62 % in TDN (energy levels). So is there any difference in “worth” between 4 week Bermudagrass hay that is 12% protein AND 60 TDN AND 4 week Bermudagrass hay that is 10% protein and 58% TDN? Yes! I entered hay with both values into the UGA Basic Balancer for beef cattle to compare. The 10% protein and 58% TDN valued hay required almost 3 pounds of soyhulls/distillers grain supplement to meet protein and energy (TDN) needs. The lower nutrient value hay cost $0.13 more per cow per day to feed. This means that the higher protein and TDN is “worth” nine dollars more per ton. I also compared 4-week old hay to 8-week hay using the UGA Basic Balancer. This comparison revealed a $35 per ton difference in value at current commodity prices.

Like I said, the value of your hay depends on many different variables; however, it is key to know your production costs and the true nutrient content of your hay. This information combined will be the best predicator of what your hay is worth to you.

This article contains information from Dr. Curt Lacy’s Economics of Hay Production and UGA Extension Bulletin 1425, Understanding and Improving Forage Quality.

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Grub Damage In Pastures

General decline of forages in pastures or hayfields can be attributed to many things. Fertility is generally our first thought. Secondary factors are then assessed to see how they might have played a leading role in the reduction of productivity. These secondary factors include drought, diseases, weed pressure, herbicide injury, soil compaction, or insect damage. Producers that have areas declining in the late summer into fall can suspect insect damage from a soil borne insect complex we call grubs.

Miller County Agent Brock Ward wrote a good description of these beetles, and how to deal with them:

Grubs are the larval stage of beetles that feed on decaying organic matter and some of those species also feed on roots as well. Pastures and hayfields that have had chicken litter or other manure applied as a fertilizer are typically the areas where these grubs are the most severe. It is important to also identify the grubs that are causing the damage as control and management of them can be different. Perhaps the most troublesome is the May/June beetle (MJB). The grubs of the MJB have a characteristic “zipper” pattern in the hair on the underside of their “tail-end”. This helps you to distinguish it from other grubs like the Green June Beetle (GJB) or chafer beetles. When faced with the MJB complex of beetles, the larvae burrows deep into the soil for much of its yearlong lifecycle (as many as three years in Northern states), so treatment isn’t an option, because we can’t expose the grubs to an insecticide treatment with any repetitive certainty. In the case that you have grubs from the MJB complex, renovation or replanting after the emergence of the beetles is likely the best management strategy. Chafer beetles are much like the MJB complex of beetles but require many more of them to reduce a stand of pasture grasses. Typically the source of the forage decline in a pasture is linked to other causal agents when chafer beetles are found in heavy numbers.


If the Green June Beetle (GJB) is the source of your damaged forage, treatment can be managed with insecticide use. The GJB has a one year lifecycle and feeds up through the soil surface before burrowing down again. This feeding habit makes it easier to target the pest. Many pyrethroids are labeled for use on the GJB adults, however the larvae have fewer insecticides labeled for their control. It is unlikely that GJB alone is reducing the stand of forage. As with most secondary factors, it is likely a combination of stressors that begin to reduce the stand. An example, I have seen recently is where drought stress, soil compaction, and grubs were leading to stunted areas in a pasture.


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Tip Moths In Loblolly


This week, we looked 2-year-old loblolly showing dieback in the tips of branches. This turned out to be damage from tip moths, Rhycacionia genera. There are different species. Loblolly’s are susceptible to tip moths, especially young, less than 5 -6 feet tall. The damage is similar: the tips of terminals and laterals are killed as result of larval boring into base of the needles or buds, and then into the shoot itself.  They can also kill small trees.


Eggs are laid on the base of needles. When the eggs hatch, larvae bore into the needle sheaths and mine needles near their base. By midwummer, larvae move to buds and burrow in them. They stop feeding in August. They overwinter in the wound area. On the terminal of branches, we observed resin-coated webs, frass from worms, brown needles, and where worms were still present, you can see the tunnel in the branch. We also found a few caterpillars inside the stem. This is something we probably need to think about treating, though we are past effective treatments now. Here is a table from the book “Insects That Feed On Shrubs & Trees” showing species and hosts.



When it comes to treating, UGA Extension Forestry Specialist Dr. David Moorhead has a detailed guide to spray control. See the weather station locations in Table 4 to choose a site closest to your site for the spray date times.  There are numerous insecticides in the 2016 UGA Pest Control Handbook that are effective for control. These can be applied by fixed wing crop dusters or by ground rigs.

10 Bainbridge March 12-16 May 21-25 July 10-14 Aug 19-23



Resin soaked web from tip moth attack


Stem bored by tip moth


Tip moth larvae


Loblolly pine attacked by tip moth

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Citrus Field Day – October 13th

Mitchell County Citrus Grower Mrs. Lindy Savelle has put together a field day October 13th from 11:30am to 1:30pm for anyone interested. They will look at rootstock, recently planted trees and discuss young tree production practices. RSVP by calling/texting 850-830-2644 with a headcount for a sponsored meal.


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Irrigation & Other Considerations Before Pecan Harvest

UGA Pecan Specialist Dr. Lenny Wells has been observing varieties and irrigation as we approach harvest:

Pawnees are being harvested this week and many other varieties are experiencing shuck split. I have seen Elliott, Oconee, Caddo, Creek, and Excel opening this week as expected. This means that these varieties will likely be ready for harvest in 2-3 weeks where we are now seeing shuck split. Also, surprisingly we are seeing shuck split begin on Cape Fear and even Stuart, although Stuart is notorious for having a few nuts on which the shucks split, then they slow down and a few more open in a couple of weeks. I still think we are about a week later than last year’s harvest.

Shuck Split Cape Fear - Dr. Lenny Wells

Shuck Split Cape Fear – Dr. Lenny Wells

It appears that we probably won’t see a repeat of the problems we saw on Oconee last year, at least not as severe as it was last season. I have cut many Oconee nuts throughout the state and have not seen any of the bad, gooey kernels characteristic of last year’s Oconee crop. They seem to be well sized and filled out nicely.

Oconee Kernel Fill - Dr. Lenny Wells

Oconee Kernel Fill – Dr. Lenny Wells

Irrigation Approaching Harvest?

Continue with irrigation through shuck split until enough nuts have split to shake the trees for the first harvest. Water aids in advancing shuck-split. Its still very dry in most of the state. Cut irrigation rates to about 1/2 of full capacity until ready to shake for the first harvest or until you get a 1″-2″ rain.

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North Florida Pecan Field Day – October 4th

Each fall, a pecan field day is held in North Florida for pecan growers in our region. Pecan specialists from UF and UGA provide updates in pecan production.

Tuesday, October 4 – 8:30 AM to 2:00 PM

North Florida Research & Education Center – Quincy

155 Research Road, Quincy, FL 32351

The 2016 Florida Pecan Field Day will provide the latest research information for commercial pecan growers. This is a free, sponsored event but we do ask that you call the Jackson County Extension Office office to RSVP at (850)482-9620 or email Matt Lollar at mlollar@ufl.edu.

The Workshop Topics Will Include:

  • Enterprise Budget for Pecan Production
  • Production Potential of Other Crops In Conjunction With Pecan for Enterprise Diversification: Fundamental Biological, Ecological & Pest Management Considerations
  • Phosphorus Banding in Pecans
  • Grove Establishment & Rejuvenation
  • Pecan Research Plot Tour
  • Annual Meeting – Florida Pecan Growers Association

Visit this blog post on Panhandle Ag e-News to register.

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