Nearly 60% of readers who responded to a Hay & Forage Grower email survey on their planting and harvesting intentions are planting new hay or haylage stands this year. And more than half of them are establishing more acres than they seeded in 2010.
About 42% of those responding to that question said they aren’t seeding new stands.
The survey, sent in early April, asked the 925 readers who responded to identify themselves primarily as commercial hay growers (37%), dairy producers (13%), beef producers (36%) or “other” (14%). Many in the “other” category were diversified producers, custom operators or row-crop producers with some hay and/or beef.
Three-quarters of dairy producers, 62% of commercial hay growers and half of the beef producers who responded are establishing new hay or haylage stands.
Of those who are seeding new hay or haylage acres this year, 60% said they’re establishing more acres than in 2010. Just under 11% are seeding fewer acres and 29% the same amount.
Half of the producers responding to the question whether they’ll harvest more, fewer or the same amount of hay or haylage acres compared to last year’s total said they’ll maintain the status quo. More than 27% will harvest more acres and 19%, fewer. Only 15% of dairy and 15% of beef producers will reduce harvested acres this year; nearly 26% of commercial hay growers will cut back.
Nearly 40% of producers who told why they’re reducing hay acres said they’ll replace those acres with corn or other higher-value crops. More than 36% will maintain normal crop rotations by reducing hay acres. About 3.5% said they’re cutting back on hay because it’s too much work.
Another 25% mentioned the following reasons why their hay acres are being cut: carryover hay available, drought, too much rain, the economy, losing rented or leased hay ground because of high crop prices or the land was sold, raising hay was too expensive for the return and that they are using the hay land for grazing.
Surprisingly, of the readers who are increasing the amount of harvested hay or haylage acres this year, 62% maintained that they were expanding their operations. Nearly 26% said a strong demand in their area is spurring them to up hay acres, and 18.5% reported they’re expecting hay prices to rise.
Nearly 15% offered a variety of other reasons for harvesting more acres, including having the opportunity to rent more ground, crop rotation, extending rotation lengths, finding it’s cheaper to grow hay for feed than to buy it, having little carryover, increasing the number of cows and wanting to include more roughage in rations.