June hay growth so far looks a lot like what the typical May would produce for Missouri hay growers, says Rob Kallenbach, University of Missouri Extension forage specialist.
After a cold, dry spring, grass-hay and alfalfa yields have recently skyrocketed with sufficient rain and perfect growing temperatures.
“We’ve proven one thing – when the temperature is right and there’s plenty of rain – grass grows,” Kallenbach says. “Not that that’s a shocking thing.”
Weather limited spring growth to about 35-40 lbs/acre/day of dry matter compared to a typical May’s 75 lbs/acre/day.
“It led to some pretty disappointing hay yields,” he says.
Although Missouri doesn’t grow a lot of alfalfa, Kallenbach says that crop fared better than grass hay during the early season, and it continues to do well.
“The second cutting has been fantastic in terms of yield.”
Missouri growers typically get about 40% of their grass hay yield in the first cutting, but that didn’t happen this year.
“The higher yield will shift a little more to the second cutting, which is often a little easier for us to make better quality feed from. So that’s nice.”
June grass hay, with its average growth rate of 40 lbs/acre/day, is growing like gangbusters this year.
“It was nearly 100 lbs an acre a day for a week or two,” he says. “When you’re growing twice as fast as you typically would, that’s a good thing.”
Such a growth rate is not without its problems, Kallenbach notes. Growers who didn’t take early first cuttings produced a lower-quality, stemmy hay with seed heads showing up in feed.
In some of those fields, growth slowed when undergrowth didn’t get needed sun, he says.
“You have a lot of shade on top of those plants so the growth rates may not be what they could be if they were able to harvest early,” Kallenbach says.
The Missouri weekly hay summary for the week ending June 20 indicates that hay sales are sluggish. Buyers and sellers are waiting to see what second cutting will bring in quality and supply.
Premium-quality alfalfa in large round bales was priced between $150-190/ton; good-quality bales, $120-160/ton.
Good-quality, mixed-grass hay in large round bales sold for $75-95/ton; fair- to good-quality grass hay went for $40-65/ton. Fair- to good-quality bromegrass priced between $50 and $70/ton.
Reach Kallenbach at 573-882-1467 or firstname.lastname@example.org.