Favorable late-summer and early fall weather has taken some pressure off supplies of alfalfa and other forages in Indiana, reports Keith Johnson, forage specialist with Purdue University Extension.
Most welcome were timely rains after Aug. 1 in many parts of the state. “Alfalfa and cool-season grasses responded well,” says Johnson. “The rains happened soon enough and were plentiful enough that forages responded with good growth. As a result, we’re a lot better off than I would have expected four months ago.”
Alfalfa growers will want to monitor their crops coming out of winter, Johnson says, especially if they harvested fields in late September or early October.“If you harvested then, the crop did not have time to replenish reserve status before the colder weather arrived. I suspect some fields could be in jeopardy next spring.”
Even with the fall cutting, overall alfalfa-hay production in the state lagged for the year. “Many producers said they had as many harvests as in any other year,” he says. “But yields were reduced for the season because of the drought.”
Currently, dairy-quality alfalfa hay is selling for around $300/ton in the state. While supplies are limited, Johnson believes the market could be close to topping out. “At some point, you get to a price where people will not or cannot pay any more. We’re probably pretty close to that now.”