All hay stored on U.S. farms on Dec. 1 totaled 76.5 million tons, according to aUSDACrop Productionreport issued last Friday. That’s down 16% compared to the year-earlier figure and the lowest Dec. 1 stocks level since 1957. Also in the report, USDA noted that hay disappearance from May 1 to Dec. 1, 2012, totaled 64.7 million tons compared to 62.7 million tons for the same period in 2011.

In aCrop Production 2012 Summaryreport also released Friday, USDA estimated U.S. production of all dry hay in 2012 at 120 million tons, down 2% from the Oct. 1 forecast and down 9% from the 2011 total. It’s the lowest U.S. production level since 1964.

For alfalfa and alfalfa mixtures, the ag department estimated total 2012 production at 52 million tons. That’s down 6% from the Oct. 1 forecast and down 20% from the year-earlier figure. Production has not been this low since 1953. Due in large part to dry weather that resulted in poor yields in the central and northern Great Plains, Midwest and Northern Tier, production decreased by 21% or more in 15 of the 42 reporting states.

Seedings of alfalfa and alfalfa mixtures increased to 2.39 million acres in 2012, 3% more than were seeded in 2011. That’s the first increase in seeded area since 2005.