Home 5 Ag Stories Hay supplies tight as drought in Plains continues

Hay supplies tight as drought in Plains continues

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It rained across Iowa over the weekend, and it is dreary today in the northeast portion of state.

Corn planting moved briskly last week, as did soybeans. Growth of alfalfa and grass was apparent as pastures turned from brown to green almost overnight and growth has been substantial. We almost take rain for granted in Iowa. It is less predictable in other regions.

Let’s just say: Rain is a necessary element to farming and is a lot better than the alternative.

Drought still persists in the major grasslands of the country, and United States hay stocks have dipped to the lowest levels seen since 2013, increasing hay prices. The most recent Hay Stocks Report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, released at beginning of May, shows hay stocks have depleted over the past several months, according to Jim Robb of the Livestock Market Information Center.

“You look at the Northern Plains of the U.S., we fed a lot of hay. We look at the Southern Plains of the U.S. because of very dry conditions. We get two reports – December 1 and May 1. The over winter usage, even though we didn’t have a severe winter (except for in northern Montana), we fed more hay than normal,” Robb said.

The low hay stocks have kept hay prices strong. For the new crop year, Robb expects less hay harvested.

“Nationwide, we’re going to have fewer hay acres harvested,” Robb said. “We have less, in the West, alfalfa acres planted. Then, Mother Nature will have a lot to say about our upland hays that can be harvested in the High Plains and Midwest. We’re in a season of where, given these very tight stocks, we went into the year with strong stocks in the Southern Plains and now we’re in a situation of tight stocks.”

Robb says producers should look at the hay supplies from a management.