More hay is available in Missouri than had been anticipated, but high prices and trucking costs are contributing to slow sales, according to Tony Hancock, Missouri Department of Agriculture-USDA market news reporter in Jefferson City. "It won't be long until we have grass in the southern part of the state," he says. "Nobody wants to buy hay and then have it left over at these prices. If you've got the money, the hay is there, although a consistent supply of high-quality hay is so hard to find that the market for that hardly exists right now."

A fair amount of hay is available in western Missouri, but asking prices are very high, Hancock states. Southern Missouri has had several ice storms that made it difficult to schedule hay deliveries. As the ice melts, growers in those areas have to deal with muddy conditions. "Northern Missouri has had unbelievable amounts of snow this winter," he reports. "It has been rough for producers in that part of the state." North-central to northeastern Missouri had a very wet fall that prevented corn harvest in some areas along the Iowa border. Hancock hasn't heard of much alfalfa winterkill being identified yet.

High prices have had livestock producers looking for alternative feeds, but no cheap options exist. Consequently, he says high feed costs seem to be driving producers to sell cattle earlier than usual.

High fertilizer prices have many hay growers talking about cutting back on fertilizer or going without it this year, Hancock notes.

View the most recent USDA hay prices for Missouri online at www.ams.usda.gov/mnreports/JC_GR310.txt. Contact Hancock at 573-751-5618.

South Carolina

South Carolina is very short on hay, reports John Andrae, Clemson University forage crop specialist. "We had a drought year last year and cattlemen and horse owners throughout the state are looking for hay," he says. "Some hay is coming in from Florida and as far away as Pennsylvania, but prices are high." Some livestock producers have turned to byproduct feeds. Fescue has started growing; however, some fescue pastures are quite thin after suffering drought stress.

Conditions are starting to look more promising for the 2008 growing season. "We have had a really good December, January and February and soil moisture is good," Andrae reports. "If we can keep the moisture coming we should be able to get a good start on the hay production year."

Contact Andrae at 864-656-3504.