Many Mississippi hay growers saw yield dips in 2013 after being challenged with pest pressure and cool, wet weather throughout the growing season.

Leaf spot disease was a problem for bermudagrass and bahiagrass growers. Bermudagrass stem maggot was also a nuisance. On average, yields throughout the state were down about 30% from what they were a year ago, says Rocky Lemus, forage specialist with Mississippi State University Extension.

Weather, Pests Plague Southern Hay

There should be enough grass hay for cow-calf operations this winter, but likely not for out-of-state shipments, he says.

“Typically at this time of year, we see a lot of hay-for-sale listings on our state hay directory. This year, though, we haven’t had very many entries at all.”

Currently, bermudagrass and mixed-grass hay in 4 x 5’, 800- to 900-lb round bales is bringing an average of $35/roll, reports Lemus. Small square bales, weighing 55-65 lbs each, are selling for around $5.50/bale. Those prices are down “a little” from year-ago levels, he says. “The demand for hay in neighboring states isn’t as strong this year.”

Many producers in the central and southern parts of the state planted annual ryegrass a little earlier than expected. That made it susceptible to “blast" or gray leaf spot, a foliar disease that attacks plants when cool nights and high humidity set in during fall. Major losses were reported. “Because of the lack of fungicides labeled for forage production, producers might be forced to replant fields.”

To contact Lemus, call 662-325-7718 or email

Note: The Mississippi Forage and Grassland Council Conference will be held at the Forrest County Multi Purpose Center in Hattiesburg on Nov. 15. Along with a business meeting, the conference will feature presentations on forage production, management and utilization; poster sessions; and product and service exhibits. Winners of the 2013 Mississippi Hay Contest will also be announced. For more information, contact Kathy Johnson at 662-325-2311. See a brochure and/or register.

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