If you want to know where alfalfa's going - or where it's coming from - Clem Ward can give you the big picture.
Ward, an extension economist at Oklahoma State University, studied the movement of hay for a couple of reasons.
"We wanted to see what the surplus and deficit alfalfa areas were. It shows the general movement and where dairy cattle are located," he says.
Although the data in the map is from 1995, Ward says it's still valid today.
"The quantities that are moving from the surplus production areas to the deficit demand areas are going to change, but the main directional flows aren't going to a great deal."
Ward, Ray Huhnke, an extension ag engineer, and graduate research assistant Solomon Kariuki had trouble finding data to compile. So they ended up using livestock and alfalfa production information from USDA and surveying extension forage agronomists and alfalfa exporters.
"We were constrained by lack of data, but I don't think it would have a great deal of influence on the directional flows," Ward says.
He'd also hoped to see if there was an opportunity for Oklahoma growers to export to Japan.
"I know most of it goes out of the West Coast, but we were thinking, if you could ship it down to the Gulf Port and then ship it by ocean liner, maybe we could be competitive. We didn't really find that."