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Friday, April 28, 2017

Sauk Centre Hay Market Summaries March/April

by Dan Martens, Extension Educator, Stearns-Benton-Morrison Counties, 320-968-5077 or 1-800-964-4929,

Here are links to my summaries from the Sauk Centre Hay Auction for March and April 2017. Click on date or item underlined to see reports.

1. March 2, 2017 Summary- All tested loads sold, groups based on hay and bale type and quality

2. March 16, 2017

3. April 6, 2017

4. April 20, 2017

5. History of Selected Lots past 6 years and each sale this year.

6. Graph of Selected Alfalfa hay groups.
    The 2016-17 season is the RED line.

7. Check other Minnesota Crop News article here for discussion about Alfalfa Winter Survival and other current topics.
YouTube fans can check out a Dan Undersander discussion on “Alfalfa Assessment” at:

Continue reading for other sources of hay market information, related notes, and calendar reminders


Minnesota and County Alfalfa and Other Hay Yields, Acres and Production for 2016 are posted now at the MN Ag Statistics Website: Click County Estimates Once again Stearns County is the largest producers of alfalfa and Morrison County is the largest producer of "Other Hay" and that mostly means grass.

The Sauk Centre Hay Auctions continue now through May on 1st and 3rd Thursday. Next Sale Thursday May 4.

The Steffes Auction is held in Litchfield on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays.

There are others.

We are making plans for this project similar to previous years. Please let me know of questions or suggestions. Fields could vary some with how they came through the winter. Keep and eye on your fields.


"Weekly Hay Market Demand and Price Report for the Upper Midwest" that is put together by Richard Halopka, UW Extension.

USDA Hay Market Reports - Look for “Hay” down the center of the page.

Continue to make Safety a Priority with the spring work - as the weather allows.

Do you need to worry about the early seeded small grains?

Yesterday morning the NDAWN station near Eldred recorded a low of 19 degrees Fahrenheit while the NDAWN station near  Stephen dipped as low as 13 degrees Fahrenheit.  Luckily the blanket of snow ensured that soil temperatures were much milder and at a 4 inch depth the soil temperatures never dropped below 32 degrees Fahrenheit at either location.  Nonetheless, I have heard a fair amount of worries about the viability of the seed that made it into ground last week and terms like imbibitional chilling were mentioned.

Imbibitional chilling is defined as the injury that results from the chilling effect that seeds may experience when they imbibe or absorb water.  The mechanism of this imbibitional chilling injury in seeds is different from chilling or freezing injury of hydrated tissues. The result, however, is much the same as it can result in poor seedling establishment, stand losses, and therefor, ultimately, yield.  Warm season species like corn and soybeans are more susceptible to this type of injury than wheat, barley or oats. Drowning out due to soils being above field capacity is also different from imbibiotional chilling as this is more related to an acute lack of oxygen that kills the embryo. 

So the question is whether the recent weather is a treat to the crop that is already in the ground and possibly even emerged.  First, small grains, including spring wheat, winter wheat, rye, barley or oats, that had emerged will likely not suffer much, if any.  If the seed had germinated but not yet emerged you may see some stand reduction.  These stand reductions are likely the result of drowning out rather than imbibitional chilling.  The same is true if the seed was just in the imbibiotional phase of the germination process.

If you are worried about the viability seed or seedlings you can simply dig some seedlings or seeds up and place them in a moist to wet paper hand towel (preferably unbleached and undyed ones). Roll the paper towel up and place it at room temperature and ensure that the rolled-up paper towel can not dry out by placing in a coffee mug with some water in the bottom and putting an open Ziploc bag over the top of the rolled-up paper towel and coffee mug to avoid rapid dry-down. This will  tell you whether the seed is still viable in 24 to 48 hours as the radicle and shoot will start to grow and elongate (further).  If you place  a second rolled-up paper towel with another sample in the fridge you also get an idea how vigorous the seed still as loss of vigor will show as very slow growing seedlings while more vigorous ones develop much faster.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

And then it snowed...any free N with that?

With the 5 inches of snow or so that fell overnight in Crookston, I was asked earlier this morning how much free N we received with that.  Ron Gelderman, former Professor & SDSU Extension Soils Specialist, wrote an article a few years ago for iGrow on how much N is deposited when it snows in early spring. This is a re-posting of his original article.

When it snowed in Brooking, SD in the early spring of 2013 they received 9 inches of snow . This contained the equivalent of about 2 inches of water. The nitrate-N content of the snow was 0.4 ppm while the ammonium-N content was 0.3 ppm.  This was equivalent to only 0.3 pounds-per-acre of available nitrogen. Not exactly a windfall of nitrogen, but also very typical nitrogen precipitation concentrations for this area. 

The National Atmospheric Deposition Program (NADP) has measured nitrogen and other nutrients in precipitation for a number of stations around the country for over 30 years. The annual level of nitrogen deposits from precipitation will range from about 5 pounds-per-acre on the Western edge of the Corn Belt to 12 pounds-per-acre in the Eastern Corn Belt.

Why the difference? Contrary to common perceptions, most of the nitrogen in precipitation does not come from lightning. There are two main forms of N in precipitation – nitrous oxides (nitrate-N) and ammonium N. About 5-10% of the nitrous oxide forms originate naturally (i.e. lightning) and the remainder comes from human activity, such as emissions from motor vehicles, electric power plants, and industrial sources. Ammonium –N in precipitation can originate naturally from soil microbe activity (about 20%) while the remainder comes from manure or fertilizer (mostly urea forms) emissions of ammonia. The ammonium forms can make up from 25 to 75% of the total N in precipitation. Since most N in precipitation is from human activity, there tends to be higher levels occurring nearest large cities with industrial centers and near agricultural areas.

While the added N in precipitation is not a large contributor to the N needs of our major crops, it can cause large changes in some environments. Some plants can be favored over others by the larger N additions. Acid rain, which is a result of more N and S in rainfall, can cause changes in some freshwater ecosystems as well as harm some forest plant species. For more information on nitrogen deposition check out the National Atmospheric Deposition Program website.

The bottom line? Most snowfalls contribute little to our overall crop N needs, but can significantly influence some sensitive ecosystems.

Tracking risk of potential 2017 cutworm damage

Bruce Potter, Extension IPM

We have been tracking black cutworm migration into southern Minnesota this spring. Volunteer cooperators in the southern part of the state have been checking pheromone traps daily.  On April 15th, a localized, but significant flight was detected by one of the traps in Brown County. One of the traps in Redwood County captured a moderate number of moths a couple days later. 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

It's not all about herbicides: Three key tactics for managing weeds

Lizabeth Stahl, Jared Goplen, and Lisa Behnken, Extension educators - crops

Effective cultivation can add durability to weed management programs. Source: Lisa Behnken
Weed management tools can be divided into three main categories: mechanical, cultural, and chemical. Historically in conventional systems, chemical control options, or herbicides, have been relied on heavily.

Herbicide-resistant weed populations, however, are limiting herbicide options and effectiveness in many fields. Implementing non-chemical options, such as cultural and mechanical control tactics, can help make weed management systems more effective and durable. Understanding and considering weed biology is a key step in developing a successful program. To develop a more robust weed management program, consider the following three key strategies:

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Sufficiency or Build and Maintain? Best Bets for Phosphorus Management

Karina Fabrizzi, Daniel Kaiser and Albert Sims

When it comes to phosphorus management, there are two schools of thought: 1) the sufficiency approach, which is designed to maximize economic return for each dollar of P fertilizer applied; and 2) the build and maintain approach, which seeks to mitigate risk by keeping soil test P at a level that minimizes the potential for yield loss. In 2011, University of Minnesota, with funding provided by the Agricultural Fertilizer Research and Education Council (AFREC), set out to test these phosphorus management strategies in long-term replicated field experiments.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Alfalfa winter injury in Minnesota

Jared Goplen, Lisa Behnken, and Dan Martens

Photo 1. Severely winter-injured alfalfa in Carver County, 2013. Photo courtesy of Dave Nicolai
As the weather warms and the 2017 growing season gets rolling, it is time to evaluate alfalfa stands for winterkill and winter injury. There have been numerous reports of alfalfa fields across Minnesota with varying levels of winter injury and winterkill. Many reports are of low areas in the field suffering the greatest damage, with affected field areas ranging from 10 – 40%. Lack of snow cover along with cold temperatures, freezing and thawing in February, and ice sheeting are some possible causes for winter injury and winterkill this year.
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