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Forages: A $20 billion harvest

Progressive Forage Editor Dave Natzke Published on 03 March 2021

Forages remained the third-leading U.S. crop in terms of total value in 2020 based on preliminary estimates in the USDA’s annual Crop Values report, issued Feb. 25.

At nearly $20 billion, forages trailed only corn for grain ($61 billion) and soybeans ($46 billion) based on marketing year value (Table 1).

hay and forage values

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The USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service report estimates values of individual crops using total production multiplied by marketing year average (MYA) prices. Nationally, slightly lower hay and all forage production during the 2020 crop year, combined with small decreases in average prices, resulted in lower overall hay and forage values.

Since the hay and forage marketing year for last year’s production is not yet ended, these preliminary crop value estimates will be updated in August 2021.

For hay, the U.S. MYA prices are based on sales between May 1, 2020, to April 30, 2021. The estimates should not be confused with cash receipts, which relate to sales during a calendar year irrespective of the year of production.

 Individual state MYAs are April 1, 2020, to March 31, 2021, for Arizona and California; May 1, 2020, to April 30, 2021, for Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Virginia; and June 1, 2020, to May 31, 2021, for all other states.

baled hay production

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State leaders: Baled hay 

Based on the preliminary estimates, Texas led all states in the value of all baled hay in 2020 at $1.33 billion (Table 2). Rounding out the top five states were California, Idaho, Kentucky and Montana.

Idaho was the leader in the value of alfalfa baled hay, with the 2020 crop valued at about $709 million. California, Montana, Colorado and Wisconsin were also among the top five states.

Leading states in the value of other hay were Texas ($1.23 billion), followed by Kentucky, Missouri, Oklahoma and Tennessee.

hay and forage production

Click here or on the table above to view it at full size in a new window.

State leaders: All forages 

Texas led all states in the value of all baled hay and forages combined in 2020 at almost $1.46 billion (Table 3). Rounding out the top five states were Wisconsin, California, Idaho and Pennsylvania.

Wisconsin led all states in the value of alfalfa-based hay and forages combined at just over $1 billion, followed by Idaho, California, Montana and Colorado.

Texas topped the list in the value of other hay and forages combined at $1.35 billion, followed by Kentucky, Missouri, Oklahoma and Tennessee.  end mark

Dave Natzke
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