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Winter U.S. hay inventories smallest since 2012

Progressive Forage Editor Dave Natzke Published on 15 January 2018

Growing-season drought in some major hay-producing states, increased hay exports and large numbers of forage-consuming cattle in the nation’s beef and dairy herds resulted in the smallest on-farm hay inventories entering winter since 2012, according to the USDA’s Crop Production report, released Jan. 12.

All hay stored on U.S. farms as of Dec. 1, 2017, totaled 86.2 million tons, down 10 percent from a year ago. Hay “disappearance,” a measure of use, totaled 69.6 million tons for the period May 1 to Dec. 1, 2017. That compares with 64.3 million tons for the same period a year earlier.

Most of the hay inventory declines were in the western U.S., and primarily due to lower hay yields. Only Colorado and Wyoming reported larger hay inventories compared with a year earlier. Western states that saw the largest declines in on-farm hay inventories compared with a year earlier included Texas, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Kansas, South Dakota, Oregon and Montana.

Hay stocks

In contrast, the majority of the eastern U.S. states reported higher stocks compared with the previous year, due to either increased acreage, higher yields or both. States that saw the largest increases in inventories were Alabama, Indiana, Georgia, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Affecting inventories, production of all dry hay for 2017 was estimated at 131 million tons, down 3 percent from the revised 2016 total. Area harvested was estimated at 53.8 million acres, up 1 percent from 2016. The average yield, at 2.44 tons per acre, was down 0.08 ton from the previous year.

Production of alfalfa and alfalfa mixture dry hay was estimated at 55.1 million tons, down 5 percent from 2016. Harvested area, estimated at 16.6 million acres, was 2 percent below the previous year. Average yield was estimated at 3.32 tons per acre, down 0.13 ton from 2016.

Production of all other hay in 2017 totaled 76.4 million tons, down less than 1 percent from the revised 2016 total. Harvested area, estimated at 37.2 million acres, was up 2 percent from the previous year. Average yield was estimated at 2.05 tons per acre, down 0.05 ton from the previous year’s revised record high.

Among major dairy states, Texas, Minnesota, Oregon, Wisconsin and Idaho entered winter with substantially smaller hay inventories. Arizona, Florida, Utah and Vermont supplies were down slightly. Hay inventories in California and New Mexico were unchanged, while New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana saw larger hay supplies.  end mark

Dave Natzke
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