A late start to the haying season could limit the number of cuttings some Northern Plains growers get this season.
The cool, wet spring can be blamed for another late harvest start. It may set overall production back a little this year on the 950 irrigated acres of organic hay Kevin Falk puts up near Tappen, ND.
“We like to get started around the end of May, beginning of June,” says the grower, who just finished first cutting the last week of June. “But this year, we were about 10 days to two weeks behind. We may not get a fourth crop off all of our acres.”
The good news, says Falk, is that the crop came through the winter and spring in good shape. “The established stands are looking pretty good. For yields, we usually look to get one and a half to two tons to the acre on first crop. We’re on target for that.”
His fields had plenty of moisture this winter and spring. “But then we got a little dry in early June. The low ground came through in pretty good shape, but it dried out on top of the hills. We do irrigate, but we were busy with other things and didn’t get the water on there like we should have. It should still yield about average though.”
Falk markets nearly all of his production in large square bales to dairies in the northeastern U.S through an Organic Valley Co-op producer pool. Based in LaFarge, WI, Organic Valley is the largest organic farmer-owned cooperative in the U.S.
Currently, he says, organic alfalfa is bringing $1.50-$1.80/point of RFV at the farm gate, up about a dime per point from year-ago prices. “The cost of growing hay keeps going up. But the demand for good-quality hay is still there. The big question is whether dairy producers will be willing and able to continue paying this kind of price for it.”
To contact Falk, call 701-327-8290 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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