A trip through NASS’s hay numbers

By Mike Rankin

January is a month for post-holiday adjustment, football play-offs, W-2 forms, farm meetings and year-end financial analysis. It’s also the month when the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) releases their Crop Production Annual Summary report. Prominent in the document are (near) final estimates of past year crop acres, yields and total production. It’s a good summary of what was and, in some cases, an indication of what may come from a market or value perspective. Here are some highlights from the forage crop section.

Hay acres

  • Acreage of all hay types in the U.S. totaled 54.4 million acres, 2.6 million acres less than 2014.
  • Final alfalfa (and alfalfa mixtures) hay acres came in at 17.8 million, down 617,000 acres from 2014 but 100,000 more than 2013.
  • For hay other than alfalfa, acres in 2015 were down by just over 2 million at 36.7 million.
  • New seedings of alfalfa totaled about 2.5 million in 2015, slightly less than 2014.

Hay yield

  • U.S. all hay average yield was 2.47 tons per acre. This compares to 2.45 tons in 2014 and 2.33 tons in 2013. Arizona topped the charts at 7.99 tons per acre.
  • Alfalfa (and alfalfa mixtures) averaged 3.32 tons per acre, slightly less than 2014 (3.34 tons per acre) but higher than 2013 (3.24 tons per acre). Arizona finished with an average yield of 8.4 tons per acre, while California ended the year at 6.9 tons.
  • For hay other than alfalfa, average U.S. yield was 2.06 tons per acre. Yields for 2013 and 2014 were 1.93 and 2.03, respectively.

Total production

  • U.S. hay production in 2015 totaled 134.4 million tons. This is down from 139.9 million tons in 2014 and 135.0 million tons in 2013.
  • Alfalfa (and alfalfa mixtures) production finished the year at just under 59 million tons, about 2.5 million tons less than 2014 but 1.8 tons more than 2013.
  • Production for hay other than alfalfa totaled 75.4 million tons. This compares to 78.5 million tons in 2014 and 77.8 million tons in 2013.

Corn silage

  • Corn silage acreage was about 6.2 million in 2015, slightly lower than both 2014 and 2013.
  • Average U.S. yield for corn silage was 20.4 tons per acre, which compares to 20.1 tons in 2014 and 18.8 tons in 2013. The 2015 average U.S. yield is the highest on record. Arizona came in with the highest average state yield at 31 tons per acre and was followed by Idaho at 29 tons per acre.
  • In total, corn silage producers harvested 126.9 million tons in 2015, down from the 128.0 million tons harvested in 2014 but considerably higher than the 118.3 million tons harvested in 2013. The 2015 total was the second highest total production on record.

If you’re interested in seeing results from your own state or for other crops (including combined numbers for haylage and greenchop), the full report can be accessed here. Hay statistics can be found on pages 30 to 42.