Hay production better this summer

Aug 9, 2013
by WLJ

The cooler temperatures and increased precipitation this summer as compared to the summer of 2012 have led to a modest increase in U.S. hay harvested acreage projections between the March Prospective Plantings and June Acreage reports.

Despite areas of winter-kill this spring, expected harvested acreage of alfalfa is up 370,000 acres over last year. That’s about a 2 percent increase, with 17.7 million acres of alfalfa expected to be cut this year, according to USDA.

Rainfall has been much more forthcoming this summer in many areas, especially in the Northern Plains, Corn Belt, Northern Rockies and Upper Midwest. After an awful year in 2012 in regards to hay production, it appears as though the bleeding has stopped in many areas.

Improved weather has supported significant cultivation and re-seeding; producers now anticipate harvesting 230,000 more acres in the new crop year than they estimated in March. Montana and Idaho also contribute significant numbers of new acreage, with increases in alfalfa harvest area projected at 350,000 and 110,000 acres, respectively.

While there has been improvement and better hay production in many areas, there are still some hot and dry areas of the U.S. where hay production will suffer again this summer. For example, Texas, Colorado and New Mexico have reduced hay production again this summer. Lack of recovery from winter-kill in South Dakota has led to a decline in hay production in South Dakota.

Nebraska, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Wyoming have seen an increase in hay production so far this summer.

USDA also reports for the week ending on July 7, 49 percent of the pasture and range in the 48 reporting states was rated as good to excellent, a marked improvement over last year’s drought-influenced rating of 21 percent good to excellent during the same time period. — WLJ