BOARD OF DIRECTORS:  Doug Bastian-President, Madison; Stuart Sorenson-Vice President, Bonduel; Dan Undersander-Exec Secretary-Treasurer, Madison; Tom Braun Reedsville, Randy Brunn Marathon, Lyle Guralski Athens; Matt Hanson Jefferson, Jake Kaderly Monticello, Randy Knapp Chippewa Falls, Randy Nehls Juneau, Ken Risler Mondovi, Scott Schultz Loyal, Paul Sedlacek Cadott;  Ron Wiederholt Neillsville.; Ex-officio:  Dennis Cosgrove River Falls and Keith Kelling Madison.


Volume 24, Number 2, June 2000



elcome to the Summer 2000 Forager. As I write this, first crop alfalfa is just about done in many areas of the state, although heavy rains have held things up in some places. Did you know that there is only a 30 percent chance of three consecutive days without rainfall in June in Wisconsin? There is a 40 percent chance in July and 50 percent in August. Rather discouraging odds! We have included an article addressing rain and its effect on alfalfa hay and silage making.



We are looking forward to the Wisconsin Forage Council Forage Expo August 16 in Stanley. There is more information on this in this issue. We are also looking forward to hosting the American Forage and Grassland Council Annual Meeting in Madison July 16-19. We have included a schedule and registration form for that meeting in this issue.















Where Can I Get a PEAQ Stick?



Where Can I Get a PEAQ Stick?



Where Can I Get a PEAQ Stick?


Many of you have been asking about availability of the UW PEAQ STICK. The PEAQ system uses growth stage and height to estimate RFV. We have been sold out of these sticks for some time, but are anticipating having them again in time for our Forage Expo. If you would like a large quantity of these (20 or more) call Dennis Cosgrove at 715-425-3345, and he will see that you get them when they are available, otherwise we will have them at the Wisconsin Forage Expo August 16 in Stanley.


Wisconsin Forage Council

Summer Forage Expo 2000 Set for August 16


The Chippewa Valley Forage Council is getting ready to host the Wisconsin Forage Council Summer Forage Expo 2000 scheduled for August 16th from 9:00 am to 3:00 p.m. at Mahr’s City View Dairy between Stanley and Boyd on County Highway O.  The Forage Expo 2000 is a summer show and will feature alfalfa harvesting and storage.


The Forage Expo 2000 combines the operation and demonstration of forage harvesting and storage equipment with the research data from UW-Extension experts.  Alfalfa forage equipment scheduled to be demonstrated includes choppers, round balers, medium square balers, mowers, rakes and mergers.  Storage demonstrations will include balage wrappers, movers and handlers, bunker silo filling, silo bag filling and total mixed ration delivery systems.  Speakers and topics at the Expo include Dr. Ron Schuler, UW-Extension Biological Engineering Specialist, “Forage Losses During Harvest” and Dr. Dennis Cosgrove, UW-Extension Forage Specialist, “Alfalfa Establishment”.  Educators from the Chippewa Valley Technical College and UW-Extension Agents will also present information on bunker silo management and total mixed ration nutrient planning.


Educational demonstration plots include an alfalfa establishment demonstration where alfalfa


was established using five different establishment methods.  These methods included direct seeding, companion seeded with oats and harvested as oatlage, grain and oats killed with herbicide.  The other method was establishment with peas and oats.  Another demonstration scheduled is alfalfa varieties from past decades.  With assistance from the UW Marshfield Research Station, eight varieties released from 1950 to 2000 are on display.  This demonstration plans to show how alfalfa varieties have changed over the last half-century.


Other educational activities include a tour of Mahr’s modern parlor milking facility, AM/PM Alfalfa Cutting results, Nutrient Management Planning and Implementation and farm and health safety.  An extensive indoor and outdoor commercial exhibit area is planned to allow company representatives in the agricultural arena to display the latest agricultural implements and products.


There is no cost to attend the Wisconsin Forage Expo 2000, and food and refreshments will be available on the grounds.  For more information, contact the Chippewa County UW-Extension office 715-726-7950, the Eau Claire County UW-Extension Office 715-839-4712 or the Wisconsin Forage Council 608-846-1825.



Sponsorship Opportunities




The Wisconsin Forage Council is looking for companies to sponsor up-coming issues of The Forager. The Forager is a quarterly newsletter that is mailed to all WFC members.  Membership includes forage producers and university and industry personnel all over the United States and Canada.  The cost of sponsorship is $500 for a full-page ad, $250 for a half-page ad and $175 for a quarter-page ad.  These sponsorships help cover the cost of printing and mailing The Forager allowing money to be available to put towards other projects.  This is an excellent way to reach a specific target audience with interest in forage production.  If you are interested in sponsoring an issue, please contact Shelly Minick at the WFC office at 608-846-1825 for more information.  


Rain Damage to Forage During Hay and Silage Making

by Mike Rankin and Daniel Undersander
Fond du Lac County Crops and Soils Agent
Forage Extension Specialist, UW-Madison




Rain that occurs between the time forage is cut and harvested causes both yield and quality losses that reduce the value of the crop as an animal feed and a marketable commodity. Weather-induced losses can be caused by:

·        Increased and prolonged plant respiration that reduces soluble carbohydrates and the overall energy content of forage.

·        Leaching of soluble carbohydrates, protein, and certain minerals.

·        Leaf shattering and loss, removing the highly digestible and high protein portion of the forage.

·        Microbial activity that metabolizes soluble carbohydrates, reduces forage energy content, and possibly produces harmful mycotoxins.

·        Color bleaching.


How much does rainfall reduce yield?


Several research studies have addressed the effects of rainfall on cut alfalfa. In Wisconsin, Collins measured dry matter losses of 22% when alfalfa was exposed to 1-inch of rain after 1 day of curing. Similar hay cured without rain damage lost only 6.3% of the initial potential yield. Losses appear to be greatest after partial drying of the forage has occurred. In this same study, alfalfa exposed to 1.6 inches of rain over several days suffered a 44% loss in dry matter.

In Michigan, Rotz and co-workers conducted several different studies to examine the effects of rainfall on field cured alfalfa. The first study reported maximum DM losses of 34%. In a second study, rainfall intensity was kept constant at 0.7-in but spread over periods of 1 to 7 hours. Dry matter losses ranged from 4 to 13 percent with highest losses occurring when the rain was spread over a longer duration. Overall, dry matter losses were much lower than those found in Wisconsin experiments although rainfall amounts (in some cases) were nearly 2 inches.

How does rainfall reduce yield?


Three primary factors are involved: leaching, respiration, and leaf loss. Leaching is the movement of cell solubles out of the plant. Components of the plant that are very water-soluble are leached out of the forage and lost during a rain event. Unfortunately, most of these compounds are those highly digested by the animal. They include such things as readily available carbohydrates and soluble nitrogen, minerals, and lipids. About one-half of the dry matter leached by rain is soluble carbohydrate.


Excessive leaching of soluble carbohydrates by rainfall impacts its value to make good silage. Reduced soluble carbohydrates provide less substrate for bacteria involved in the fermentation process. In situations where soluble carbohydrates are in low concentrations, silage additives that provide fermentable substrate might provide some benefit to insure proper fermentation.


Respiration, the breakdown of soluble carbohydrates by plant enzymes, will cause dry matter losses regardless of whether wilted forage is subjected to rain or not. Respiration losses occur while crop moisture levels are above about 30 percent. These losses are reported to be about 3 to 4 percent of the potential DM harvest. Each time cut forages are wetted by rain, respiration is prolonged or begins again in cases where the cured forage is already below 30 percent moisture. In either situation, additional dry matter is lost.


Researchers disagree about the amount of leaf loss that occurs in cut alfalfa as a direct result of rainfall. In a Wisconsin study, leaf loss ranged from 8 to over 20 percent of the initial forage dry matter where rainfall amounts were from 1 to 2.5 inches. In a Michigan study, direct leaf loss was much lower ranging from 0.5 to 4.2%. For both of these experiments, the cut forage was physically picked-up and lost leaves underneath the swath were weighed. In an Ontario study where forage was not hand-manipulated, rain-induced leaf loss was determined to be minimal (less than 0.5%).


Experience and common sense tell us that rain damaged alfalfa is more susceptible to leaf shatter after it dries. Rainfall often means additional raking or tedding to speed up drying; hence, more lost leaves.


How does rainfall intensity and forage moisture affect losses?


Research is conclusive on these two points. Given the same amount of total rainfall, a low intensity rain will result in more leaching of soluble compounds than a high intensity rain. In addition, as forage moisture declines, it is more prone to DM loss from rain. In Wisconsin rainfall studies, the maximum loss in DM (54% DM loss) was a treatment where 2.5 inches of rain fell on hay that was nearly cured.


Does rainfall affect forage quality?


Perhaps nothing is more frustrating than to see excellent quality alfalfa turn into cordwood with each passing rainstorm and subsequent raking. Most rainfall studies agree that wetting of field cured alfalfa has little impact on crude protein concentration., In fact, it is common to see relatively high protein values in comparison to fiber concentrations. However, because rain leaches soluble carbohydrates, structural fibers (acid and neutral detergent fibers) comprise a greater percent of the forage dry matter. Depending on numerous factors previously discussed, the digestibility of rained-on hay may decline from 6 to 40 percent.


My hay is ready to cut but there’s rain in the forecast. Do I cut or not?


This dilemma has faced forage producers for years. Because the impact of rainfall on loss of forage yield and quality varies with timing, amount, and duration, there is no easy answer. The range in economic loss from rainfall for a particular hay crop can range from minimal to over 100 percent, if the forage has to be chopped back onto the field. However, based on previous research studies and applied management practices, we can categorize factors that increase our risk of cutting hay when the weather forecast is somewhat less than perfect. These are presented in Table 1 on page 4.


Finally, computer technology and the Internet now make it feasible for producers to have home access to up-to-date weather radar images. There are many excellent weather information web sites with both multiple radar image selections and updated forecasts. These help to take some of the "guess work" out of forage harvesting decisions.






New Forage Specialist at the University of Minnesota


The University of Minnesota has hired a new forage extension specialist to replace Neal Martin who left to become director of the USDA Dairy Forage Research Center. His name is Paul Peterson. Paul is a UW graduate that obtained his masters and Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota. He has since worked at McGill University in Montreal and Virginia Tech.  Some of you may remember Paul's father Don Peterson who was with the UW-Extension for many years.  Paul has a lot of Wisconsin ties, and we are looking forward to working with him.


Table 1. Relative Risk of Cutting Hay with Rain in the Forecast

Relative Risk




Forage can or will be ensiled

Forage will be baled

Fewer days needed for curing and swath is often narrower when forage is ensiled.

Small acreage of forage to harvest

Large acreage of forage to harvest

With many acres to harvest, delaying harvest puts more acres at risk of not being cut in a timely manner.

Rain is forecasted for early in the drying period

Rain is forecasted for late in the drying period

Quality losses are less if forage is rained-on while still relatively high in moisture. NOTE: weather forecasts are less reliable beyond two days.

Forecasted rain is short duration and/or scattered

Forecasted rain is "frontal" and/or long duration in nature

Less leaching of cell solubles occurs with short duration, high intensity rainfall than with long duration, low intensity rainfall.

Forage is pure grass or grass-legume mixture

Forage is a pure legume

Losses associated with leaf shattering are less of a concern with grass species.

Standing forage is beyond optimum maturity stage

Standing forage is still relatively high in quality

With advancing maturity, a smaller percentage of the plant is comprised of cell compounds that are most susceptible to leaching by rainfall.

A chemical drying agent and/or preservative is used

No chemical drying agent and/or preservative is used

Effective use of chemical hay drying agents and/or preservatives can speed drying time or allow for harvest at a slightly higher moisture level.

A market or feeding opportunity exists for lower quality forage

A market or feeding opportunity doesn’t exist for lower quality forage

In many situations there may actually be a need for a limited amount of lower quality forage

Lower quality forage can be stored (ensiled) separately from high quality forage

All forage must be stored (ensiled) in same structure

The ability to inventory forage by quality allows for more flexibility in ration formulation and doesn’t force the use of low quality forage for animals with high nutrient needs.


Check out the Wisconsin Forage Council on the Internet at:





JULY 16-19, 2000


Schedule of Events:

Sunday - July 16

All day registration

8:00am - Noon

- AFGC Board Meeting


10:00am - Noon

- Crop Germplasm Committee Meeting


1:00pm - 4:30pm

- NAAIC Biotechnology Symposium


4:30pm - 6:00pm

- NAAIC Executive Committee Meeting


Noon - 6:00pm

- AFGC Forage Utilization Tour


6:00pm - 9:00pm

- BBQ and Tour - UW Arlington Research Station


Monday - July 17

All day exhibits, National Hay Show, National Photo Contest

6:30am - 8:00am

- Industry/Affiliate Council Breakfast


8:00am - 9:00am

- Affiliate Council Meeting


9:00am - 10:00am

- AFGC Submitted Papers


8:00am - Noon

- NAAIC Breeding


10:00am - Noon

- Forage Spokesperson Contest


Noon - 1:00pm

- Luncheon





1:00pm - 1:05 pm

-Welcome & Overview

Garry Lacefield, U of Kentucky

1:05pm - 1:25 pm

-Grazing Tolerance

Jim Moutray, ABI Alfalfa, Inc.

1:25pm - 1:45 pm


Bruce Coulman, Agri&AgFood Canada

1:45pm - 2:05 pm

-On-Farm Use of Alfalfa for Grazing

Jimmy Henning, U of Kentucky


Panel Discussion - Future Of Alfalfa As A Grazing Crop In:


2:05pm - 2:20 pm


Luciano Pecetti, ISCF, Lodi, Italy

2:20pm - 2:35 pm

-North America

Ray Smith, U of Manitoba

2:35pm - 2:50 pm

-South America

Daniel Basigalup, INTA, Argentina

2:50pm - 3:05 pm


Garry Lacefield

3:05pm - 3:35 pm






3:35pm -3:55 pm

-Biotech Traits in Alfalfa - Overview

Edwin Bingham, U of Wisconsin


3:55pm - 4:15 pm

-Biotech Traits in Alfalfa - European Perspective

Fabio Veronesi, U of Perugia


4:15pm - 4:35 pm

-Round-Up Ready Alfalfa

Mark McCaslin, Forage Genetics


4:35pm - 4:55 pm

-Opportunities for Biotech Traits in Alfalfa Down on the Farm

Neal Martin, USDA-ARS


4:55pm - 5:10 pm


Garry Lacefield


5:10pm - 8:00 pm

-Authors with Posters, Cash bar & Wisconsin Cheese,

Live auction-last 45min.



Tuesday - July 18


All day - exhibits, National Hay Show, National Photo Contest


6:30am - 8:00am

- AFGC Board Meeting



7:00am - 8:00am

- EFIC, CAIC, WAIC meetings



8:00am - 11:00am

- NAAIC Management & Physiology Symposium



8:00am - Noon

- AFGC Submitted Papers



11:00am - Noon

- NAAIC Business Meeting



Noon - 1:00pm

- Luncheon



1:00pm - 4:30pm

- The Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative



1:00pm - 4:30pm

- AFGC Submitted Papers



1:00pm - 5:30pm

- NAAIC Entomology & Pathology Symposium



4:30pm - 5:30pm

- AFGC Business Meeting



5:30pm - 6:00pm

- Mixer, cash bar



6:00pm - 9:00pm

- Joint AFGC/NAAIC Awards Banquet



Wednesday - July 19


6:30am - 8:00am

- AFGC Board Meeting



8:00am - 1:00pm

-Alfalfa/Forage Research Tour





AFGC/NAAIC Joint Meeting Registration

Marriott Madison West - Madison, Wisconsin – July 16-19, 2000


Name: __________________________________________________________

Spouse/Children: __________________________________________________________

Company: __________________________________________________________

Address: __________________________________________________________

City: ____________________State: ______ Zip/Postal Code: ___________

Telephone: ________________________ Fax: ___________________________

Email Address: __________________________________________________________

Membership (check all that apply): ____ AFGC ____ NAAIC




(all amounts in US dollars)





(Sun/Mon only)

Number of persons


at $120 each

at $35 each

at $20 each

Total Registration





Sunday, July 16





Forage Utilization Tour & BBQ





UW Arlington BBQ & Tour





Monday, July 17





WI Dells Boat Tour





Affiliate/Industry Breakfast










Cash Bar/Cheese





Tuesday, July 18





House on the Rock & Taliesin










Joint Awards banquet





Wednesday, July 19





Alfalfa Research Tour















Late Fee (after 6/15/00)





Total $US





Please make all checks payable in U.S. funds to: AFGC 2000 Conference

Participants should return this form and registration fees to:

AFGC 2000 Conference, American Forage and Grassland Council, P.O. Box 94, Georgetown, TX 78627

Mastercard and VISA credit card payment will be accepted. Please indicate your credit card number and

expiration date below: If paying by Credit Card, form can be FAXed to 512-931-1166

Name as it appears on Credit Card: ____________________________________________

Credit Card # (Mastercard or VISA only): _______________________________________ Exp. Date ______

Call the AFGC headquarters at 800-944-2342 if you have questions

Upon payment of the registration fee, full registration participants will receive a complete registration

packet, lunch on Monday, lunch on Tuesday, ticket to Cash Bar/Wisconsin Cheese Event, a copy of

the Proceedings of the meeting, admittance to all meetings, exhibits and breaks. Producer registration

will include a registration packet, ticket to Cash Bar/Wisconsin Cheese Event, admittance to all meetings,

exhibits and breaks on Sunday and Monday only. Spouse/children registration will include a registration

packet and a ticket to Cash Bar/Wisconsin Cheese Event.

Accommodations are available at the Marriott Madison West by calling directly to 608/831-2000.

Mention you are with the AFGC/NAAIC Conference to receive the special rate of $89 plus tax for

single or double accommodations. Reservations should be made prior to 6/15/2000.