Jake Heppner, Altona, Manitoba, has been seeing a steady increase in demand for hay and straw this fall, and is advising customers to secure supplies early. "We will run short at some point and I expect to see prices continue to go up," he states. Heppner raises and sells alfalfa and wheat and oat straw. "It was a good year for straw," he says. "As far as hay, our first cut was extremely wet, the second cut was not too bad, and the third cut was excellent." He sells mainly to the dairy market, exporting about 75% of his production to Wisconsin and Minnesota. Heppner is thinking about converting some of his acres to organic production to service the organic dairy market.

He attended the recent World Dairy Expo in Madison, WI, to make contact with U.S. dairy hay customers. Contact him at 204-324-1240.

South Dakota

It was a challenging year for quality hay production, says Amy Freeburg, Freeburg Hay Company, Gayville, SD. "Everyone in our area struggled through our better cuttings," she reports. "There was too much humidity, and little bits of rain here and there stretched out cuttings way too long. Third, fourth and fifth cuttings have been a real challenge." While Freeburg expects there will be enough hay to meet customer demand, she also realizes some dairy producers will probably have a hard time finding the quality hay they would like. "There will be dry forage in the dairy ration, but quality will be the issue," she notes. "We are telling people to get hay lined up earlier than they usually would. Don't wait until February or March to look for that hay."

Freeburg helped answer dairy producer questions in the National Hay Association booth at World Dairy Expo earlier this month. She and her husband, Gary, raise 2,500 acres of hay in southeastern South Dakota.

Contact Freeburg Hay Company at 605-267-4426 or view their Web site at