A production shortfall for the year’s final hay harvest, brought on by dry late-summer weather, could put pressure on Indiana forage supplies heading into winter months, says Keith Johnson, Purdue University Extension forage specialist.

“It would have been nice to have some rain for those third and fourth cuttings,” he says. “But in many parts of the state, rainfall just didn’t happen. This last harvest is likely to be pretty sparse.”

Excellent first- and second-cutting hay yields make it unlikely that livestock producers will scramble for hay supplies as they did during last year’s drought. Even so, Johnson advises them to look at forage inventories now.

“We’re not in the same kind of dire situation we were in a year ago,” he says. “Prices have come down quite a bit since early spring. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see prices creep up in late winter. You want to make sure you have enough hay on hand. If you think you’re going to need to buy forages, I’d be more inclined to get it done now rather than waiting until February or March of 2014.”

Forage-quality testing will take on added importance this year, especially considering low-quality, weather-delayed spring production harvested across most of the state, he says.

“Make sure what you have on hand will meet the needs of your animals as they march through the various stages of the production cycle. Be wise about when hays of varying quality are fed and what supplements are needed.”

Contact Johnson at 765-494-4800 or johnsonk@purdue.edu.

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