Jon Rakowski, Pound, WI, counts himself among the fortunate few in 2012. While many Midwestern growers’ crops have wilted in the wake of extreme hot and dry conditions this growing season, Rakowski’s fields have had just enough timely rains to produce average to above-average yields through his first two cuttings.

A good chunk of his good fortune came in the second week of June, when 6” of rain fell in his area. “We were just finishing up on first crop,” says Rakowski, who grows alfalfa-orchardgrass hay on 450 acres and operates under the Hilly Haven Farms business name. “It made our second cutting. Prior to that, we had been without rain for 20 days. Since then, we’ve had some showers along the way. Right now, we’re on pace for average rainfall for the season.”

He packages all of his hay in 3 x 3 x 8’ square bales. First crop is marketed to dairy-heifer-growing operations. Most of his second- and third-cutting hay goes to dairy grazing operations as winter feed and to dairy producers needing feed for calves weighing 300 lbs or less. Most customers are within a 150-mile radius of his farm.

Second-crop alfalfa-grass hay, with an RFV of around 130, is currently bringing $220/ton delivered, Rakowski reports. That’s up $50-60/ton from the year-ago price. First-crop hay, with an RFV of 115-120, is bringing $175/ton delivered, $40/ton higher than it was last year at this time.

“Over the last two weeks, my phone has been pretty busy,” he says. “We’ve been getting a lot of calls from Illinois and even farther south. Everybody is trying to make sure they have enough hay to get them through. There’s a lot of fear about supplies right now.”

To contact Rakowski, call 920-591-1034 or email jlrakowski@netzero.net.