It’s been a case of good news-bad news for hay growers in southern Wisconsin so far in 2013, reports George Koepp.

On the upside, plentiful rainfall in May and June has produced to a significant volume of hay, says the University of Wisconsin Extension (UWEX) ag agent in Columbia County.

“With it taking so long for the pastures to green up, livestock producers were really scrambling to find hay just a little over a month ago,” he says. “But with all the rain, the crop has really come on. A lot of people have been able to rebuild their hay stocks. Grass has been growing at a pretty good clip, so some graziers have been cutting and baling hay to keep ahead of the growth.”

On the downside, precipitation has crimped alfalfa quality. “Ordinarily, we would have wrapped up on first cutting several weeks ago,” says Koepp, who adds that winterkill wasn’t as much of a problem in his area as it was in other parts of the state. “But we still have some people who are trying to finish up. People who were chopping first crop did much better. For anyone trying to put up dry hay, it’s been very, very challenging. And with every day that goes by, the quality drops a little more.”

Anyone looking to track regional hay-pricing trends should check out UWEX’s Weekly Hay Market Demand and Price Report for the Upper Midwest, Koepp recommends. To contact Koepp, call 608-742-9682 or email george.koepp@ces.uwex.edu.

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