Lower-than-normal mountain snow levels have irrigated hay growers in Wyoming concerned about the upcoming growing season, reports Donn Randall, crop and forage program manager for the Wyoming Business Council’s Agribusiness Division.

As of early last week, snowpack in many parts of the state was about 70% of normal. “A lot of people are pretty nervous,” says Randall. “If we have a normal year, we can still get a lot of snow in March and on into April. But these days, I’m not sure if anybody knows what a normal year is.”

Adding to the uneasiness, the long-range weather forecast is calling for drought in the state to continue through spring and into early summer.

“The cow-calf guys are really concerned about what they’re going to have available when they go to turn their cattle out on pasture. If we don’t get the moisture, we could see more herd liquidations.”

Hay supplies remain extremely tight throughout the state. Alfalfa is all but gone. “You do see a few stacks sitting here and there. But most of that has already been sold and is just waiting to be moved.”

Beef producers have been bringing in supplies from as far away as central Alberta. “From what I’ve heard, a lot of it is of very marginal quality,” says Randall. “The selling price is around $90/ton. But once you put the freight on it, the price goes to $240. You really have to wonder about the economics.”

To contact Randall, call 307-777-6578 or email donn.randall@wyo.gov.

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