Many Midwestern hay and silage producers are scrambling to finish the first alfalfa cutting – three weeks or more behind schedule.
Others, lucky to get enough rain-free days to finish the first cutting on time, are starting on the second.
The last two weeks have been mostly warm and dry. But June was one of the wettest on record in several states. For many growers, it was impossible to make hay or even haylage without rain damage. Some windrowed alfalfa, rained on several times, was chopped and blown back onto fields.
In last week’s hot weather, mature first-cut alfalfa was ready to chop shortly after it was cut, and ready to bale a day later. But loaded trucks were getting stuck in wet fields.
Growers are worried about the damage being done to alfalfa stands, and about the quality of this year’s crop. Tonnage is high, but quality is down, and dairy farmers will be forced to buy hay to get the quality they need.