Plentiful hay haul

Weather producing good amounts of hay for area farmers

OSCEOLA COUNTY — Recent weather conditions in the area have been ideal for hay production and local experts are predicting an abundance of the crop as a result.

As farmers continue to work hard on their first cuttings of hay, those in the Mecosta and Osceola county area shouldn’t have to worry about a shortage, according to Jerry Lindquist, Michigan State University Extension grazing and crop management educator.

“The reports we are getting are yields are good in this portion of the state,” Lindquist said. “We’ve had good weather and the crop is being harvested on time, which is good news. We should have a good yield of hay and also the quality should be decent.”

In Lindquist’s recently published hay report for June, he noted good first cutting hay yields are being reported across much of Michigan. However, some areas of the state have been drier than normal which may start to impact second and third cutting yields.

“We are fortunate because we’ve gotten more rainfall than some other areas, such as over in the thumb and southern Michigan, as well as the Lake Michigan coastline, which have been pretty dry,” he said. “For these areas of state, the first cutting is

really below average and they are worried there won’t be much of a second cutting unless there is rain.”

The fact Mecosta and Osceola counties have experienced favorable conditions is both good and bad news for hay producers, Lindquist said.

“There’s actually a surplus, so that’s bad news because the selling price is down for us because of the excess,” he said.

Lindquist notes there may be some hay demand brewing in surrounding states as the U.S. Drought Monitor Map shows much of Pennsylvania and Indiana are abnormally dry, as well as Northeast Wisconsin and Northeast Minnesota.

If dry weather continues in these areas through mid-summer there could be increased demand for some of Michigan’s surplus hay, he said. However, current predictions are the demand for hay will be lower than the amount on the market.

“It’s going to be harder to market most hay because there’s a big supply of first cutting,” Lindquist said. “Some farmers may decide not to fertilize or even cut because it’ll cost them more to harvest than what they’ll sell it for. Lots of tough decisions for folks who may think they should cut their losses now, but you also can’t forecast what the rest of the season will be like.”

Lindquist advises farmers to stay tuned to the hay market, paying attention in order to make the best decision for their farms. Unless drought areas develop, prices may have to continue moving below $80 per ton to get these abundant low quality first cutting hays sold, which is below breakeven for the average farm, according to Lindquist.

While the lower quality hay may be more difficult to market, the higher quality crop won’t be so much of a challenge, he added.

“Alfalfas will be in demand as the grass hays are flooding the market,” he said. “The early harvest and alfalfa is the hay that will find a home this year.”