A stretch of rainy weather during late April-early May – 2¼” in a four-day period – was both a blessing and a curse for hay grower Andy Stock, owner of Stock Hay Company near Murdock, NE.

“We were getting pretty dry here,” says Stock, who puts up alfalfa hay in 3 x 4 x 8’ bales on 400 acres. “This definitely put some moisture back in our soil profile.”

On the flip side, the precipitation held Stock back from starting first-crop harvest. “Everything’s been running about a month ahead of schedule. We usually start in on first crop in mid-May. This year, we could have been going around April 20. Between getting my corn planted and the rain delays, though, I wasn’t able to get going on the hay.”

He’s expecting first-crop yields to be average or better. “We did get hit with some light frost in April, and that might have set the alfalfa back a little. Overall, though, it’s looking pretty good. We should have some good tonnage.”

Stock markets most of his hay to dairy producers in Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio and Mississippi. He wouldn’t be surprised to see prices early in the growing season fall off slightly from last year’s high levels. “The milk price has slipped and my customers have been asking lots of questions about price,” says Stock, who notes that prices through the winter were running about $50-75/ton more than year-earlier levels. “They’re watching their bottom lines very closely.”

Light carryover supplies of alfalfa throughout the Midwest could temper the price decline, though. “From January through now, there wasn’t a lot of inventory out there. I think a lot of people are sitting and waiting to see what happens once the new-crop stuff is available. That could keep prices strong. I just don’t know if, right out of the gate, they’ll be as good as they were last fall.”

To contact Stock, call 402-867-3341 or email andy@stockhay.com.