Good hay crop in Michigan’s eastern Upper Peninsula

So far, local farmers report an above-average yield and good quality hay despite a wet and late spring season.

Baled hay in Dafter, Michigan
Baled hay in Dafter, Michigan, July 31, 2019. Photo by Jim Isleib, MSU Extension.

On the last day of July of 2019, some Chippewa County farmers in Dafter and Rudyard, Michigan, were visited by their local Michigan State University Extension field crops educator. Each was asked how far along hay harvest had progressed. The answer from each was similar. About 50% or more of the hay in the region had been cut and harvest conditions have been good. Smaller farms with less hay acreage are typically a bit further along, perhaps 75% of hay harvested on these operations.

Most hay in this area of Michigan consists of timothy and birdsfoot trefoil. There are clovers and other grass species, of course, but timothy-trefoil is the tried and true combination that can tolerate the untiled, flat clay soils, low pH and often low fertility conditions. Most acres are harvested only once a year with a typical yield of around 1.5 tons dry matter per acre. Much of this hay is sold to buyers out of state.

Baled hay in Rudyard
Baled hay in Rudyard, Michigan, July 31, 2019. Photo by Jim Isleib, MSU Extension.

These farmers were also asked how the hay yield looks. The answer was consistently positive, with above-average yields expected by each. One farmer commented that he saw more alsike clover in his hay this year than normal. Alsike clover is a good feed for most livestock, but not desirable in horse hay due to the possibility of toxicity. Hay producers and buyers alike should be aware if their usual hay supply includes an increased amount of alsike clover.

Uncut hay
Uncut hay in Rudyard, Michigan, July 31, 2019. Photo by Jim Isleib, MSU Extension.

Hay quality on eastern Upper Peninsula farms appears to be good this year, too. The cold weather this spring delayed hay maturity as much as two weeks, allowing farmers to be better prepared for a more timely harvest than usual.

With hay shortages developing in other farming areas and a strong hay market for sellers, the good hay harvest in the eastern Upper Peninsula is good news for Chippewa County farmers.


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