California alfalfa acres in 2015 are the lowest in 77 years

By Seth Hoyt

Seth Hoyt

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

USDA’s final estimate of alfalfa hay acres in California in 2015 was 790,000, the lowest alfalfa hay acres since 1938 and the second lowest since the 797,000 acres in 1941. This is the fourth consecutive year of lower alfalfa hay acres in California that goes back to the 900,000 acres in 2012. While dairy cow numbers are declining slightly in California there are still 1.776 million dairy cows as of November 2015. A Milk Production report from USDA next week will show if California dairy cow numbers continued to slip in December. The bottom line, in order to provide sufficient alfalfa hay for California’s large dairy cow population, more alfalfa hay will need to be purchased and trucked in from other Western states in the coming years. Early indications point to fewer alfalfa hay acres in California in 2016 compared to 2015.