Many Missouri hay growers are getting an average 30% lower yield this year after early season growth was hammered by an April freeze that caused many hay fields to start growing all over again. "It has been an odd year in Missouri," reports Tony Hancock, USDA Market News reporter in Jefferson City. "Some producers are getting 50% less yield than normal, while others are getting 30-40% less than normal. Even though yields are low, people are saying that the alfalfa and grass hay quality is better than average." Farmers producing brome hay are getting close-to-normal yields; it seems brome and mixed grass fields suffered less damage from the freezing temperatures. "We are getting close to fescue seed harvest, too, but it seems a lot of fescue is being put up for hay instead of being saved back for seed," Hancock says.

Missouri growers are off to a better start in the moisture department than in recent years. "Last year, southern Missouri was dry and southwestern Missouri had been in an extreme drought for two years," Hancock states. "Northern Missouri had some early flooding. Extreme south-central Missouri is starting to worry about moisture now. Northern Arkansas is starting to get very dry. There are no areas in Missouri where we are panicky yet, but a good rain sure would ease some fears."

Last year, Missouri growers sold hay early to buyers in Oklahoma and Texas. "Then, when conditions ended up getting very dry here, we had to get hay from Illinois, Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin," Hancock says. "A few guys are looking for hay to buy because they don't want to end up short of hay like last year. Very few people are willing to sell right now. People are holding tight to their hay. We are getting a few reports of prices being in the middle to high range, but we are still trying to establish the market because hay is just not moving."

Some wheat is being harvested, so straw should be coming onto the market. "We actually had some straw left over from last year because the demand for straw isn't very good in the state," he says. "You can get good straw for the money. We've got a lot of straw put up in small bales and ranging in price from $1.75 to $3.50/bale.
Contact Hancock at 573-751-5618.


Hay prices are good in the much of the Northwest, according to Jack Getz, USDA Market News reporter in Moses Lake, WA. "Prices are holding up really well based on tightness of supply," Getz says. Better milk prices mean dairy producers have a bit more money to spend on hay. Conditions are dry in Idaho, Nevada and California and there isn't as much pasture for beef cattle. This means beef producers are feeding hay earlier than normal, which is impacting tight hay supplies.

Growers in much of California are working on the third cutting, while Oregon producers are just starting to harvest. Most of the Northwest has had good weather for hay production, Getz reports. There hasn't been much early interest from hay exporters, but the potential seems to be good for export demand later in the season.

Contact Getz at 509-765-3611.