Most New Mexico fields were just tall enough to cut before early April's cold weather hit, reports Doug Whitney, hay grower and custom baler, Roswell. "Along with the rest of the U.S., New Mexico farmers are closely monitoring their fields to see what the Easter cold snap has done to an early spawned first cutting," he says. Many are taking light cuttings two and a half weeks ahead of schedule, hoping to make up the difference by year's end. 'It seems we can wait two to three weeks and get maybe another quarter ton, or clear the field and grow a ton or better in the same time frame," Whitney says. "Even though the freeze may not have completely killed it, it doesn't grow much after a cold snap. We had 24 degrees one night two weeks prior to Easter. Unless it is new hay, it seems about done."

Unusual spring thunderstorms and hail are plaguing southeastern New Mexico's first cutting, which is badly needed by local dairies and small-bale users, says Whitney. The light first cutting makes buyers nervous about prices and weather outcomes as the season wears on, he says.

Growers were threatened with rains every three days last week and received over 2" of rain in the last two weeks, Whitney adds. "We are getting what looks like another inch of rain," he emailed this morning. "Every time we cut, we get hammered. Hay is nearly overripe, while weather conditions continue to wreak havoc on hay-baling crews."

Learn more about New Mexico hay at www.nmhay.com. Contact Whitney at 505-622-8080.

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