After getting off to a sluggish start, the alfalfa crop has been coming along nicely at Howard “Howdy” Hildebrand’s ranch near Joliet, MT. “We were pretty dry heading into May,” says Hildebrand, who manages 350 irrigated alfalfa acres and 800 irrigated and dryland grass hay acres. “It was starting to burn up. But we got a good rain the second week of May that put everything back on track. It’s been a pretty good summer overall.”

He puts up most of his alfalfa in 4 x 4 x 8’ bales to sell to beef feedlots in Colorado and Texas. His round bales go to local ranches, and he makes “a few” small square bales each year for the certified, weed-free hay market.

As of early last week, Hildebrand was about halfway through second-crop alfalfa harvest.  Depending on the year, his alfalfa ground will typically yield 5-7 tons/acre in three cuttings. “We should be right on target for that this year as long as we don’t get an early frost in September.”

Premium alfalfa in his area is selling for around $150-170/ton at the stack. A year ago, the price was consistently in the $160-170/range. “There’s a little bigger spread this year because there’s a lot more hay around,” says Hildebrand. “Last year, with the drought, there were a lot more people looking for hay, and a lot of growers were all booked out by this time.”

To contact Hildebrand, call 406-860-8520 or 406-962-9000.

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