One more indication of how drought has devastated Southern Plains hay production: Hay-for-sale listings on an online Oklahoma Department of Agriculture (ODA) hay directory dropped steadily and dramatically this month.

"People have been calling and asking us to take their names off the list because they've sold out of hay, and they don't want to deal with all of the phone calls they've been getting," says Jack Carson, a USDA-ODA Market News reporter in Oklahoma City. "One producer who called last week said: 'If I told you how many calls I've been getting each day, you'd absolutely think I was making it up.' "

Two weeks ago, Carson reports, sellers had more than 200 listings on the directory from within Oklahoma. As of July 19, just over 50 names were left. "It's pretty incredible when you think about. We started out the crop year with some pretty impressive hay stocks in the state. But now, in a relatively short period of time, we've gone … to having a very decided shortage. Everyone is scrambling to find hay supplies."

The number of seller listings on an out-of-state hay directory has also been dropping steadily. "A couple of weeks ago, we had more than 10 pages of listings (with about eight listings per page)," Carson notes. "Now we're down to about two and a half pages."

In some ways, he says, the fall-off in out-of-state numbers may be even more alarming than the dwindling in-state listings. Many irrigated alfalfa growers in the state's southern and south-central regions have shut off pivots on their alfalfa circles for the rest of the growing season.

"We're still seeing triple-digit temperatures and dealing with very windy conditions. From their standpoint, putting any more water on the alfalfa crop would be a waste of money. That means any more alfalfa hay we get in Oklahoma this year is going to have to come from out of state."

Hay sellers interested in listing with the directory can get more information by contacting Carson at 800-580-6543 or jack.carson@ag.ok.gov. View the in-state directory and out-of-state directory.