A prolonged stretch of extremely warm, dry weather in late June-early July has put the brakes on hay growth throughout Kentucky.

“We’re pretty much at a standstill as far as hay production goes,” says Tom Keene, hay marketing specialist with University of Kentucky Extension. “We just don’t have any moisture to make hay. Even crops like alfalfa and red clover are just sitting there trying to conserve water. They’re not really growing.”

Some livestock producers have already begun feeding hay in order to stretch pasture supplies, Keene says. “If we get some timely rains, we could still make hay and get some decent fall pasture. But if this thing holds on until late October or early November, a lot of people are really going to be hurting.”

Without a break in the weather soon, hay prices will definitely be moving higher, he says. The state did have some carryover at the end of last winter. “But it wasn’t a tremendous amount by any means.”

With supplies likely to remain tight, he says hay buyers should think about getting into the market sooner rather than later. “If you can find the quality you want at a decent price, it may pay to lock it in now. When other people are scrambling to find hay in January, February or March, you can turn your attention to other things. Think of it as peace of mind.”

To contact Keene, call 859-257-3144 or email tom.keene@uky.edu.