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0112fg_forage_folks_1Glenn Shewmaker
Extension Forage Specialist
University of Idaho

Idaho alfalfa hay acreage was 1 million acres in 2011 (NASS, 2012), which was down 130,000 acres from 2010. Peak alfalfa hay acreage was 1.2 million acres in 2003.

Production was 4.3 million tons and if we assume an average value of $225/ton, then alfalfa hay was worth $967 million in Idaho for 2011.

Less acres and a dip in yield produced reduced hay stocks compared to past years and some livestock operations may not have adequate supplies to last them until first cutting.

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013112_plant_hardinessThe U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today released the new version of its Plant Hardiness Zone Map (PHZM), updating a useful tool for gardeners and researchers for the first time since 1990 with greater accuracy and detail.

The new map – jointly developed by USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and Oregon State University's (OSU) PRISM Climate Group – is available online at ARS is the chief intramural scientific research agency of USDA.

For the first time, the new map offers a Geographic Information System (GIS)-based interactive format and is specifically designed to be Internet-friendly. The map website also incorporates a "find your zone by ZIP code" function. Static images of national, regional and state maps also have been included to ensure the map is readily accessible to those who lack broadband Internet access.

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013112_rangelandsCattle that graze on rangelands in the western United States may soon have a new forage option, thanks to work by a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientist.

Research by geneticist Blair Waldron with USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in Logan, Utah, suggests that forage kochia (Kochia prostrata) can provide more nutritious winter forage than traditional rangeland vegetation.

ARS is USDA's chief intramural scientific research agency, and this work supports the USDA priorities of responding to climate change and promoting international food security.

Waldron and his cooperators in Utah partnered to learn more about forage kochia, a shrubby Asian native plant that sometimes survives wildfires and other environmental challenges more successfully than North American native plants. Waldron works at the ARS Forage and Range Research Laboratory in Logan.

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In many high-yielding areas of the Corn Belt, residue buildup has become a challenge.

DuPont businesses Pioneer Hi-Bred and DuPont Industrial Biosciences are collaborating with Iowa State University, performing studies on residue to establish best practices in harvesting, storage and transportation, as well as to assure the agronomic and environmental integrity of cornfields.

"We know the near-term benefits of residue removal," says Andy Heggenstaller, Pioneer agronomy research manager from Iowa. "We're now trying to learn how to take advantage of these benefits with an eye toward achieving similar long-term agronomic advantages."

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The best I can do is to review the parts of the conference that stood out to me. Others who attended may note other things that stood out to them as impressive or important.

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