Hay supplies this past winter were some of the lowest in decades in Kentucky. As a result, many farmers scrambled to find enough hay for their livestock, and hay prices increased substantially. “Certainly, when all is said and done we will see the lowest carryover we’ve seen in many, many years,” says Tom Keene, hay marketing specialist with the University of Kentucky. “It’s going to put a lot of pressure on the 2008 crop.”
Some hayfields may be planted to wheat, corn and soybeans. One hay grower Keene knows has said he’ll have to get the same prices for his 2008 hay as he received in 2007, or he’ll switch crops. Keene expects Kentucky farmers will work furiously to bale as much hay as possible to meet their needs. “It’s going to be interesting. Producers learned some tough lessons this year. Many will be better cattle and forage managers in 2008 than they were in 2007.”
Keene points out it will be crucial for hay growers to know what they have invested in their crops in terms of expenses.
Contact Keene at 859-257-3144.
Ervin Gara III, owner of Wyoming Haybusters, Torrington, WY, sold out of dairy hay early this winter, but says overall hay demand slowed in his area after the first of the year. “There is still some hay around,” he says. “I’m not sure if people were waiting it out or what. Last year people were knocking down doors looking for hay, but demand hasn’t been quite as high this year.” Beef cow hay has been selling for about $110/ton in eastern Wyoming. Supreme hay has been bringing $135-150/ton, while premium hay has been selling for $120-135/ton.
Gara is going to plant an additional 1,200 acres of alfalfa this year, bringing his total up to 4,500 acres. All of his alfalfa is irrigated. He says even with the irrigation, water issues can be challenging at times. “Water didn’t get delivered until late in June and early July last year,” he explains. “Some hay had burned up by then. This year we are supposed to have early water available for hay production. Last year we had 70 days of water. Between 100 to 110 days of water would be ideal for hay production.”
He usually takes four cuttings of alfalfa a year, baling 4 x 4 x 8' bales. He bales at night to take advantage of the dew, and strives to cut at 32-35 days. Gara also custom harvests about 500 acres. All hay is sold based on test results, mostly to dairies. His main customer is one of Colorado’s largest dairies, but he also sells to dairy and beef clients in Wyoming, Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin and Texas.
Contact Wyoming Haybusters at 307-532-1746.