Alabama hay growers have struggled with dry conditions this past winter and so far this spring, reports Don Ball, Auburn University extension agronomist. "We had a severe drought last summer and the result was much lower hay production in the state, as well as in the Deep South in general," he says. "Winter normally is our wet season, but we are still at least 6" behind normal moisture."

The lack of hay has led some livestock producers to graze pastures earlier than is recommended. "A lot of pastures were stressed by a combination of the dry weather and overgrazing," Ball notes. "Pastures aren't growing to the extent that they normally do and need special attention."

According to the Alabama Ag Statistics Service and the recent USDA Prospective Plantings report, the state's hay growers expect to harvest 900,000 acres in 2007, 25% more than in 2006.

Learn more about Alabama forages at www.aces.edu/department/forages/. Contact Ball at 334-844-5491.