Seth Hoyt
Author of The Hoyt Report, providing hay market analysis and insight.

With the decline of alfalfa hay acres in Central California due to continued growth of almond and pistachio acres, will the Imperial Valley again become a bigger player in alfalfa hay production in California? In the 1970s, the Imperial Valley was the leading alfalfa hay-producing region in California, but today Central California is the top production area. Indications point to less alfalfa hay production in Central California than in past years. The dairy cow population in California is still 1.755 million head with a big percentage in the Central Valley. Demand for export alfalfa hay in the southern desert of California and Arizona is growing. In 2006, there were 1.1 million acres of alfalfa in California, compared to 720,000 acres in 2016. Almond acres in 2006 totaled 755,000, and in 2016 the estimate is just over 1 million acres. The key to expansion of alfalfa hay acres in the Imperial Valley will be profitability for growers, which they did not have in 2016.