USDA’s October Crop Production report forecasts 2010 production of alfalfa and alfalfa mixtures at 71.3 million tons, down 2% from the August forecast but up slightly from last year’s production.

Based on Oct. 1 conditions, USDA expects yields to average 3.44 tons/acre, down 0.05 ton from the August estimate but up 0.09 ton from last year’s actual yield. If realized, this would be the sixth-highest yield on record.

Yields could have been even higher. A hot and dry August in most of the Corn Belt and northeastern U.S., coupled with cooler weather and late-season rains in Pacific Coast states, hindered production.

For other hay, USDA is projecting total U.S. production at 81 million tons, down 1% from the August forecast but up 6% from the 2009 total. This would be the third-highest production level on record.

As of Oct. 1, the ag department forecast an average U.S. other-hay yield of 2.08 tons/acre in 2010, a record. Producers in California, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota and Wyoming are all expecting record yields this year.