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Putting a face to forage numbers at Geralds Farms

Progressive Forage Grower Editor Lynn Jaynes Published on 23 May 2016

As a cash crop, the value of all dry hay harvested in 2015 was estimated at $16.84 billion, trailing only corn ($49.04 billion) and soybeans ($34.54 billion).

Adding in the value of haylage and greenchop, the USDA estimated the value of hay-based forages in the U.S. at $19.13 billion in 2015.

In the conterminous 48 states, grassland pasture and range represent the largest share of the land base. About 51 percent of the U.S. land base (including Alaska) is used for agricultural purposes, including cropping, grazing (on pasture, range and in forests) and farmsteads.

Those numbers are fine and dandy for the forage industry as a whole, but what does it mean on the local level? Let’s put a face on those numbers.

In central Kentucky, the hay market is geared largely for the horse and cattle markets. Clayton Geralds is one of the producers who focus on quality horse hay on 750 acres across Hart County. He and his partner, Tony Chapman, raise pure alfalfa, alfalfa-orchardgrass mix, timothy and orchardgrass-fescue. They put up about 107,000 small square bales a year.

Geralds says, “The emphasis must be on quality, while trying to maintain as much yield as possible without sacrificing quality. Our goal is for 90 percent of our hay to be fed to horses.”

Even though his customers don’t require hay testing, Geralds is particular about testing his own hay, and says, “It’s important to us to know we’re putting up quality hay.”

Most of the hay leaves his farm on semitrucks and is sold to the horse market via brokers or through farm supply stores.

Geralds is a member of the American Forage and Grassland Council (AFGC – see more information at the AFGC website) and National Hay Association. He says it’s essential for forage producers to stay connected with their industry “to stay up to date with current events, products and techniques.”

Geralds is proud to be supporting National Forage Week as part of his involvement with AFGC and the Kentucky Forage and Grassland Council, and as a producer who knows the importance of quality forages.

To find out more about National Forage Week, go to the AFGC website and find out how you can participate.  end mark

Hear from Geralds himself in the video below:

Lynn Jaynes
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