Alfalfa-hay production will likely increase by more than 6 million tons this year, according to USDA's recent Crop Production report.
This year’s alfalfa-hay crop looks to be one of the most robust on record, according to USDA’s Crop Production report released Aug. 12.
An increase of 11% – or more than 6 million tons of alfalfa and alfalfa-mixed dry hay – is expected to be produced this year, the national forecast indicates. That’s a total of 63.6 million tons compared to the 57.6 million tons grown in 2013.
Average yield is estimated at 3.5 tons/acre, an increase of a quarter of a ton per acre over last year’s total. If the yield estimate holds true, it will be the second highest ever, slightly behind the 3.51 ton/acre average recorded in 1999.
Much of the U.S. has had good moisture and cooler-than-average temperatures this growing season to produce a bumper alfalfa crop. The exceptions are areas of the West that are dealing with ongoing drought.
Total alfalfa acres harvested for 2014 are estimated at 18.2 million acres, up by 2% over last year’s 17.8 million acres.
Wisconsin alfalfa growers may see one of the biggest production spikes this season after contending with winterkilled acreage the previous year. The report suggests that the Badger state will enjoy a 45% bump to 4.1 million tons of alfalfa compared to its 2013 production total of 2.86 million tons.
Minnesota growers will produce about 38% more alfalfa this year for an estimated total of 3.4 million tons compared to last year’s 2.47 million tons. They also lost alfalfa acres to winterkill the year before.
New Mexico will see a production increase of 55% from 783,000 tons to 1.2 million tons. So will Colorado, increasing by 43% from 1.9 million tons in 2013 to 2.7 million tons this season.
For other types of hay, total tons produced and acres harvested will be down slightly this year from the previous year’s totals, the report suggests. But average yield will slightly increase.
About 77.2 million tons of other hay are expected to be produced this season, down 1% from last year’s total. Total harvested acres are estimated at 39.5 million acres, down 3% from last year’s 40.5 million acres.
Average yields are expected to be 1.96 tons/acre compared to 2013’s 1.94 tons/acre.
Growers in Alabama, Colorado, Louisiana, Nebraska and Wyoming can expect record high yields for other hay this year, the report states.
Texas can expect to produce 10 million tons of other hay in 2014, translating to a 22% increase over last year’s total harvest of 8.3 million tons. Oklahoma growers will likely produce 5.4 million tons of other hay, a 25% improvement over 2013’s 4.4 million tons.