33rd Annual Alfalfa Conference Recap

Dr. Garry Lacefield welcomes producers to the 33rd Alfalfa Conference

Photo: University of Kentucky's College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment

More than 100 Kentucky alfalfa and grass hay producers attended the 33rd annual Alfalfa Conference on Feb. 21 at the Fayette County Extension Office. This year’s conference focused on hay production for the horse and other high-quality markets. Several University of Kentucky researchers presented and also served on the conference's organizing board.

Two speakers on this year’s schedule--Clayton Geralds and Todd Clark--focused primarily on producing horse-quality alfalfa and alfalfa/grass hay. Geralds, of Hart County, has produced horse-quality alfalfa for years. He operates a 600-acre farm with alfalfa, alfalfa/orchardgrass, and timothy as his main hay crops. He spoke about using RoundUp Ready alfalfa varieties, which allows him to spray the stands with RoundUp to remove all weeds and produce weed-free hay. RoundUp Ready Alfalfa was first available on the market in 2006.

On his 1,000+ acre operation, Lexington native Clark produces pasture-raised chicken, turkey, sheep, beef, and equine hay bales that typically weigh less than 50 pounds, per many horse owners' request. Traditional hay producers try to have the most dense hay bales possible to make transportation more economical. However, Clark has found many of his clients are young females who prefer to not lift 60- to 80-pound bales. He also stresses that weed-free, dust-free, and very green hay is in high demand in the horse market. Hay not up to this standard can be fed to other livestock, including cattle.

Other topics at the conference included grazing alfalfa with cattle, harvesting for baleage, and understanding the value of fertilizer in alfalfa hay production. During the lunch program winners were announced for the best alfalfa hay produced in 2012. Winners included Hunts Forage Farm, Chris Creech, Geralds Farm, Woodland Place, John Nowak, Mike Malone, Jerry Samples, Rick Horn. John McCoy won the champion Alfalfa Hay for 2012 award. The conference concluded with the panel of presenters taking questions from the crowd and each other.

The Alfalfa Conference is held annually by the Kentucky Forage and Grassland Council and rotates locations between Lexington and Cave City, Ky. For more information on next year’s conference, contact your local county agent. Previous alfalfa conferences proceedings are available at www.uky.edu/ag/forage/proceedingspage.htm.

Krista Cotten, an MS candidate and assistant coordinator of the University of Kentucky's Horse Pasture Evaluation Program, provided this information.

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