Weather challenges throughout Washington state’s growing season reduced Gaunt Farms’ alfalfa yield and some quality. Even so, 2013 has been a “pretty good year,” says Chep Gauntt, who farms with his son, Drex, near Kennewick. Fourth cutting on their 900 acres of alfalfa was just getting underway this past week.

Tonnage on the first three cuttings was off by about 10% compared to average. “We were late getting started because of cool weather,” Gauntt explains. “Then it turned really hot for the summer.”

Sporadic rains cut quality slightly for second and third cuttings. “Some fields from both of those (early cuttings) ended up going to the feedlot,” he says, adding that rainy weather is also affecting fourth cutting. “But the quality on everything else was really pretty good.“

The Gauntts have sold roughly 95% of their production to export buyers, with later cuttings bringing $200-210/ton.  “That’s down about 15% from a year ago,” he says. “Trade with Japan slowed down this year.”

The growers are happy with the price, however.  “We’ve already sold all of the hay we’ve put up so far. And, like a good friend of mine says, ‘Any time you can get a price with a two on the front end of it, you’re doing just fine.’ ”

To contact the Gauntts, call 509-521-4245 or email gaunttfarm@charter.net.

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