Improved weather leading to increased hay production brought about a 35% rise in the amount of hay stored on farms this year over last year’s figure. All hay stocks estimated for 2014 should hold at 19.1 million tons, up from 14.1 million tons noted May 1 of last year.

Even so, that’s the third lowest May 1 stock level since 1989, according to USDA in its May Crop Production report.

Hay use between Dec. 1, 2013, and May 1 of this year totaled 70.1 million tons, compared with 62.4 million tons for the same period a year earlier.

Missouri, Kansas and Arkansas more than tripled their hay stock inventories for 2014 from 2013, totaling 1.8 million tons, 1.3 million tons and 550,000 tons, respectively. Nebraska, at 1.1 million tons, and Michigan, at 270,000 tons, nearly doubled the amount of hay kept on farms in their states.  Other states with notable increases include South Dakota, at 1.5 million tons; North Dakota, 1.2 million tons; and Oklahoma, at 1.1 million tons.

This year’s May 1 hay-stock level was at a record low in California, which reported only 140,000 tons vs. 320,000 tons reported in 2013. Minnesota also hit a record low – just 440,000 tons remain, compared to 490,000 tons the previous year. Texas also saw a decrease, from 1.6 million tons in 2013 to 1.3 million tons this year.

General declines in stocks levels were due to lower production in the Southeast, drought conditions in the West and Southern Plains, and a cold, wet spring in the Northeast and parts of the Midwest, according to USDA.