Alfalfa and alfalfa mixture production will likely be down 4%, for a total of 65 million tons, while other hay is predicted to be down 14%, at 67 million tons, from 2010 numbers. That's according to USDA's August Crop Production report released today, Aug. 11.
The good news, based on Aug. 1 conditions, is that alfalfa yields should average 3.36 tons/acre, down only 0.04 ton from last year's total. If realized, this will be the second-highest yield since 2005. Harvested area is forecast at 19.3 million acres, unchanged from the June forecast but down 3% from the previous year's acreage.
Adequate rainfall along the Pacific Coast, across much of the northern tier, and in portions of the eastern half of the country has led to greater yield expectations in several states. Most notably, record-tying yields are forecast for Idaho, North Dakota and Virginia. Elsewhere, predominately hot, dry weather in the Four Corners region, as well as the southern Great Plains, adversely affected much of the alfalfa crop.
The other hay production-reduction forecast of 14%, if realized, will be the lowest production level since 1993. Yields are expected to average 1.75 tons/acre, down 0.20 ton from last year's figure and expected to be the lowest U.S. yield since 1988. Harvested area is forecast at 38.3 million acres, unchanged from the June forecast but down 4% from last year's total.
Unusually warm temperatures, coupled with little to no moisture across much of the southern half of the country, have led to decreased yield expectations in
many states. Severe to exceptional drought conditions centered over Oklahoma and Texas, but, stretching from the Four Corners region through much of the Delta, have negatively affected pastures and many grass-hay fields.
Elsewhere, adequate rainfall and surplus snowpack across much of the northern tier provided favorable hay-growing conditions. Producers in North Dakota, Washington and Wyoming are expecting record-high yields, while forecasted yields in Louisiana and South Dakota are expected to be record-tying.
For production estimates on other crops, visit USDA Crop Production report.