Widespread, severe drought conditions continue to put pressure on hay stocks in Texas, particularly in the state's eastern and Coastal Bend regions, according to ag agents with Texas AgriLife Extension.

"As we go another week without any measurable rains and above-normal temperatures, forage conditions continue to deteriorate under normal grazing pressure," says Lee Dudley, AgriLife Extension agent for Panola County, east of Tyler. "Many producers have already culled once and are now looking to cull deeper into their herds as they are running out of standing grass."

Conditions are similar in Wood County, about 100 miles east of Dallas, reports AgriLife Extension agent Clint Perkins. "We are in an extreme drought throughout most of the county," says Perkins. "Pastures and hay meadows are in bad condition. Feed prices for dairy producers are on the increase. Producers are talking about a serious cull of herd size if rainfall does not come."

"Time is running out for larger producers to produce enough hay to meet their needs if rains don't come soon," adds Mark Currie, AgriLife Extension agent for Polk County, east of Huntsville. "Hay purchases will likely be very costly with a high trucking bill, which will force increased culling of herds."

Alfalfa production in many parts of the state is running about one-third to one-half of normal, according to last Friday's Weekly Texas Hay Report from the USDA-Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) Market News in Amarillo. "Producers with alfalfa under circles are watering at continuous rates trying to beat back water evaporation," reads the report. "Lower yields and increased production costs have kept hay prices higher than expected to help producers cover their overhead costs. Many continue to ship hay in from further distances."

TDA has a Hay and Grazing Hotline set up for buyers and sellers. To access the hotline, call 877-429-1998 or go to the TDA Web site.