Author of The Hoyt Report, providing hay market analysis and insight.
After dry conditions in the West during the first few months of 2015, things changed in May. Some areas received record rainfall, which helped bring needed moisture but brought in an unstable weather pattern. In southern Idaho and Washington, growers were forced in mid- to late May to either keep waiting for more stable weather and have over-mature alfalfa hay, or cut and hope for the best. Many growers decided to cut, and unfortunately a large amount of hay was rained on. In Washington, estimates ranged from 50 to 80 percent of first-cut alfalfa hay was rain damaged. While more stable and dry weather is forecast for Washington in the coming weeks, Idaho may have to wait 10 days for a more stable pattern. The bottom line: At a time when export and dairy buyers were looking for higher quality new crop alfalfa hay, Mother Nature did not cooperate.