A potential production shortfall brought about by limited water supplies is likely to put upward pressure on grass hay prices in central Oregon in 2014, says hay grower and beef producer Lee Fischer of Sisters.

“We’re looking at a pretty dicey hay season ahead,” says Fischer, who is treasurer of the Oregon Hay & Forage Association. “There’s not a lot of snow in the mountains, maybe 80% of what we normally have. Last year, we were able to take three cuttings. This year, we’re more than likely looking at just two. We’ll know more when we get into July. But, right now, it’s not looking very promising.”

Fischer puts mixed-grass hay into 80-lb small square bales on 40 irrigated acres. He feeds about half of his production to his Wagyu beef herd and sells the rest to local horse owners and beef producers.

This past winter, the price for high-quality grass hay in his area was around $250/ton. As new crop comes on, Fischer expects to raise his prices by around $25/ton. “Buyers from California are already pushing the market here. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some prices of $350-400/ton. There isn’t going to be a lot of hay around. A lot of people are getting out of the business.”

To contact Fischer, call 541-410-4495 or email lee.fischer@mail.com.