It doesn’t matter what part of the country you’re from, your grass or alfalfa seed likely originated in the Willamette Valley, Oregon, where the National Hay Association recently held its 118th annual convention.

Jaynes lynn
Emeritus Editor
Lynn Jaynes retired as an editor in 2023.

Visit our Flickr account see a photo slideshow from the event.

Although the Willamette Valley could grow practically anything in its mild, wet-winter and hot-summer climate, growers lead the world in cool-season forage and turf grass seed production (more than 592 million pounds of cool-season grass seed in 2010, and more than 950 varieties).

On the West Coast, hay production and hay export have to be used in the same sentence and were frequently coupled at the convention proceedings.

The global market has expanded and projections are that it will continue to expand as demands increase from the Pacific Rim, Middle East and European countries.

The message was clear — the U.S.’ backyard just got a little bit bigger. The issues facing producers, brokers and commodity brokers now are how to economically package and ship hay while retaining quality when shipments sit for two months or more in sealed containers on docks in customs yards before beginning the journey.

Steve Fransen, Washington State University researcher, presented early results of hay storage trials in conjunction with producer Stan Steffen, specifically testing for bale wrapping effectiveness in sealed-container storage facilities.

Bale wraps tested included Ag-Bag, Tyvek, stretch material and purposely damaged stretch material (exposed to air), as forage was packaged at low moisture and high moisture treatments. All bales were double compressed.

Current export regulations require bales to be 14 percent moisture or less, but Fransen’s study indicated 25-30 percent and even 40-45 percent moisture bales could be effectively wrapped and stored for export.


Quality markers of relative feed value, neutral detergent fiber, protein and acid detergent fiber were monitored with different wrap and moisture treatments. Fransen noted that additional research is needed to confirm early results.

Other presentations included a Canadian forage update, a presentation on making high quality grass hay in four days or less, and association and industry updates and panel discussions.

Convention attendees tested their skills with a Roadrunner hay squeeze at Boshart Trucking operations, toured Mountain View Seed Research facility, and visited seed producing and cleaning operations at Doerfler Farms and Ioka Seed Farm, as well as hay packaging facilities at Steffen Systems Manufacturing.

Other tours included Double Press Machinery, Anderson Hay & Grain, Bossco Trading LLC, Golden Valley Farms and several local attractions.

National Hay Association President Stan Steffen and First Lady Ruth Steffen hosted the tradeshow and convention at Grand Hotel in Salem, Oregon.  FG