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New Mexico Hay Association, NMSU to co-host Southwest Hay and Forage Conference

RUIDOSO, N.M. - At the annual Southwest Hay and Forage Conference in Ruidoso, Jan. 23-25, growers will come together to learn about developing trends in the agricultural world, the outlook on water and fertilizer supplies, and new technologies available to producers.

Other highlights of this year's conference include weed control in alfalfa, control of salt cedar, and center pivot irrigation technologies.

"As alfalfa and other forage producers face extended dry conditions and future commodity uncertainty, it is critical for them to educate themselves on the latest technological and research advances," said Mark Marsalis, New Mexico State University agronomist with the Cooperative Extension Service. "Hay and silage growers need to be aware of the land use options available to them in order to make the best and most economical decisions for their operations. Many new products, management schemes, and even new land uses are becoming available that could be valuable options for them in the future."

This year's conference will address these and other topics to provide information to help growers maximize profits and sustainability on their farms.

With the area's continued dry weather on everyone's minds, Lela Hunt and Molly Magnuson, with the Office of the State Engineer, will give an update on the drought situation and information about the OSE Drought Task Force.

Fertilizer availability and prices are always a concern to farmers, and Bill Boyer, from Mosaic Co., will give an overview of the company and mining near Carlsbad and a fertilizer outlook for the year.

Marsalis will discuss the potential and limitations of forage sorghum silage, an alternative crop to corn that has been a great fit in dry, stressful growing conditions.

In addition, Leonard Lauriault, forage agronomist at NMSU's Agricultural Science Center at Tucumcari, will give a presentation on the benefits and challenges associated with grazing alfalfa.

Jamshid Ashigh, NMSU extension weed specialist, will present research findings from studies involving different herbicides for weed control in alfalfa.

Dave Staheli, with Staheli West, will provide information on the dew point simulator that allows farmers to monitor and adjust the moisture in hay as it is being baled, providing greater flexibility in the timing of baling. In addition, a producer who has been using the simulator will provide information on his firsthand experience with the system.

David Thompson, NMSU director of the Agricultural Experiment Station, will present information on the potential of biological control of salt cedar and the work that has been conducted in New Mexico.

Other topics at the conference include trends and issues in the electric generation industry, presented by New Mexico Rural Electric Cooperative Association; strip till fertilization and nitrogen protectants, with Orthman Manufacturing Inc.; and a discussion on living trusts with Richard Ritter.

"We always hope that producers of both hay and other forages will learn valuable and practical information that can be taken back home with them and utilized on their farms," Marsalis said. "Several experts from the region have come to share their insight on the current production issues facing hay farmers in New Mexico, Texas and Arizona."

The two-day conference will have a large machinery trade show, featuring the latest in farm equipment, as well as booths with various alfalfa and other forage-related products, two sponsored meals, a social hour and entertainment.

"The conference offers attendees access to a wide variety of the most up-to-date research information and industry technology," said Justin Boswell, executive director of the New Mexico Hay Association. "The 2012 conference was another great experience for our attendees and we think this year is shaping up quite well, too. The New Mexico Hay Association is very grateful to all of our sponsors for helping us bring this conference together."

Comedian Lyndy Phillips will perform following the banquet dinner on Jan. 24. Phillips grew up on a farm in Texas and is sure to have entertaining insights into the world of haymaking. Also this year, following the success of last year's dance, a live band will follow Phillips' performance.

The event will provide both New Mexico and Texas pesticide applicator and Certified Crop Advisor Continuing Education Units. The conference registration starts at 9 a.m. Jan. 24 at the Ruidoso Convention Center at 111 Sierra Blanca Dr. Attendees can register at the door for $120.

For more information on the Southwest Hay and Forage Conference, visit http://www.nmhay.com, or contact Gina Sterrett at nmhay@yahoo.com or 575-752-3204, or Justin Boswell at 575-840-9908 or juboswel@yahoo.com. For a copy of the registration form, contact Sterrett or visit http://www.nmhay.com. Booth space is still available. Marsalis can be contacted at 575-985-2292 or marsalis@nmsu.edu.