Following the 2012 drought, U.S. hay and alfalfa production rebounded last year, according to the 2013 Crop Production Summary issued by USDA last week.
Production of all hay in 2013 totaled 136 million tons, the ag department estimates. That’s down 3% from the Aug. 1 forecast, but up 13% from the 2012 total. The estimated harvested area for 2013 was just more than 58 million acres, up 4% from that of a year earlier. The average annual yield, at 2.33 tons/acre, was up by just two-tenths of a ton compared to what it was in 2012.
For alfalfa and alfalfa mixtures, 2013 production was estimated at 57.6 million tons, down 4% from the Aug. 1 forecast, but up 11% from that of the year before. At 17.8 million acres, the harvested area last year was 3% above the 2012 acreage total. The average alfalfa yield last year, at 3.24 tons/acre, was up by 0.23/ton from 2012’s yield average.
Growers seeded 2.52 million acres of alfalfa and alfalfa mixtures during 2013, up 5% from year-earlier seedings. While this was the second consecutive year of increased seeded area, the report notes, it was still the third smallest seeded area on record.
The total of all hay stored on U.S. farms as of Dec. 1, 2013, was 89.3 tons, a 17% increase from the hay stocks total of a year ago. That’s according to a Crop Production report also issued by USDA last week. Hay disappearance from May 1 to Dec. 1 was 60.5 million tons. That compares to a decrease of 64.7 million tons for the same period a year earlier.
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