Kansas

Alfalfa hay production may be down 25-30% in Kansas this year, estimates Steve Hessman, hay market reporter for the state ag department and USDA Market News. The reasons: fewer alfalfa acres and a late first cutting, he says.

According to the National Ag Statistics Service, 10-15% of hay acreage in the state was converted to corn and soybeans this year. “Higher-production alfalfa hay acres have been taken out -- mainly irrigated acres or areas that have good rainfall or good submoisture,” Hessman adds. “A lot of dryland hay, especially in western Kansas, would have been taken out but there wasn’t the moisture to plant anything else.”

A 10-day to two-week late start on first cutting, because of cool weather, will affect yields. “Alfalfa is a forgiving crop and we may get compensation in other cuttings, but we know we won’t have that last cutting of the season,” he says. “It’s going to make hay tight.”

Contact Hessman at 620-227-8881.

Ohio

“I’m going to have an enormous crop of hay,” says Larry Brogan of L.J. Hay, Inc., Hanoverton, OH. “Some things could come along and broadside us later in the summer, but I’m looking at a picture-perfect first cutting.”

He credits timely rains and generous fertilization, especially the nitrogen he put on his grass hay fields. “That was money well-spent,” says Brogan. “Even though nitrogen prices are at record highs, nitrogen still makes you money. You can’t take it off if you don’t put it on.”

Although some of his neighbors are well into their first cuttings, he plans to start this week. He’s been busy building a second hay barn, and his fields have been a bit too wet, anyway. “I think too much of my seedings to go out there and track them up,” he says.

Ohio hay auction prices had been at record levels, but have softened some the last week or two. “Some hays are down 50 cents on the dollar, but I think it’s short-lived,” says Brogan. “Anybody who knows they’re going to need hay might be watching some of these weekly auctions.” He foresees a hay shortage later this year, with prices for dairy-quality hay hovering just above or below $200/ton.

He grows about 1,000 acres of alfalfa, timothy and orchardgrass in pure stands and mixtures for the dairy and horse markets, and buys roughly 5,000 additional tons per year for resale. He also buys 2,000-3,000 acres of straw in the field, bales and sells it.

Call Brogan at 800-622-9902.