Big round bales of hay lined up for sale south of Kaufman in late June are a rare Central Texas sight.
Thanks to timely rains, much of East and North Texas had reasonably good hay production in 2012, says Vanessa Corriher, AgriLife Extension forage specialist.
But don’t expect Texas producers to ship hay north to Midwestern drought-stricken areas, she adds, noting that Midwesterners had shipped hay to that state in 2011 due to drought-induced forage shortages.
“Anything is possible, but I’m not sure (East) Texans will be comfortable doing that even with the rain we had this year,” Corriher says. “I think we’re just running a little scared.”
As of July 24, about 30 East Texas counties comprised the only part of the state not rated in either extremely dry or in one stage of drought or another, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Early drought-monitor reports show better moisture conditions for Central Texas. Those better conditions brought some good hay yields, according to Corriher.
Hay stocks are up, prices are high – ranging from $60 to $100/bale – and stocking rates are down in parts of Texas. Yet she expects most producers east of Interstate 45 to be cautious and hold on to what they have.
“A lot of our producers, whether they had livestock or were strictly into hay production, depleted a lot of their stocks last year. I think the attitude this year has been to rebuild those stocks – to refill those barns they emptied last year – and try to prepare themselves for winter feeding. And there’s always the potential for another extended drought in Texas.”
More information on the current Texas drought and wildfire alerts can be found on the AgriLife Extension Agricultural Drought Task Force Web site.