by Marvin Hall
Extension Forage Agronomist
Penn State University
First-cut grass harvest is being completed after several weeks of rain delays. In general, grass yields have been about 25 to 35 percent lower than normal because of the cool, dry weather in April and early May. Second cutting alfalfa is underway with reports of good yields and little to no potato leafhopper damage. An extremely dry May reduced pasture growth, so farms were already supplementing with hay. Rains in June have improved pasture growth but farmers are concerned about sufficient pasture and hay for the summer. At the moment, forages are looking good in Pennsylvania, but we are hoping for better yields in the remaining harvests compared to first cutting.
Forage Extension Specialist
University of Kentucky
There was very little carryover of hay for livestock producers here in Kentucky going into this growing season with record cold temperatures during late winter and two record snowfalls in February and early March.
Forage growth was delayed early in the 2015 growing season, but adequate late spring temperatures and moisture allowed most stands of grasses, legumes and alfalfa to be harvested in early to mid-May as usual. Most Kentucky producers had really good haymaking weather in early May this year that provided excellent harvesting conditions. Farmers that had fertilized early were able to make some high-quality hay with good yields at that time. Farmers that had not fertilized had reduced growth and some delayed harvest until more forage was available.
After that early May period, most of Kentucky had periodic rains for two weeks with another dry period in late May and early June.
During the last two weeks, haymaking conditions have been marginal with periodic rainfall and above average temperatures. In other words, the daily forecasts have often been “hazy, hot and humid,” not very good weather for making hay.So for 2015, hay yields are average but quality is reduced with putting off harvest until the weather allows.
Forage Extension Specialist
Montana State University
A fair amount of precipitation early in the spring has created good growing conditions for hay in much of Montana. First harvest yields are expected to be up throughout most of the state, with some producers harvesting early. Many producers have already put up their first cutting, especially in the central and western part of the state. A late frost in the eastern part of the state has created some issues, particularly with perennial forage crops. Continuing rains in parts of the state, primarily in the northern areas, made proper baling problematic. Hay prices appear to be around average for all hay types.
Alfalfa weevils have made their appearance in a large portion of the state, particularly in the eastern part of Montana; this interrupted first cutting and decreased harvest yields. There was a large infestation of voles early in the season and increasing populations of other small rodents. Both caused localized problems in hay fields. Significant amounts of hail occurred in the eastern portion of the state, creating moderate to severe damage in many fields.