Hay supplies tighter than earlier reports due to 2012 summer drought

Latest USDA reports show ending hay stocks are significantly lower in Michigan.

The lingering effects of the early spring freeze and the hot, dry summer of 2012 in Michigan on forage supplies have been tabulated and released in the latest USDA Crop Production Report. Michigan State University Extension forage educators have been encouraging beef, dairy, sheep, goat, and horse owners to seek out forage producers and secure their winter hay needs before hay supplies all but disappear.

In response, MSU Extension is offering meetings to address this short supply of hay that some feel may linger for more than one year. There are meetings on the Forage Cost of Production for those considering planting new forage acres in 2013. There are also a series of meetings on Feeding the Beef Herd Alternative Feeds in 2013 and Beyond.

The USDA Crop Production Report shows a significant reduction in total tons available in the Michigan-Indiana-Ohio region for ending hay stocks on farms. Findings in October 2012 were pointing to lower production by approximately 8.5 percent for Michigan. However, when the December 2012 report was released, Michigan was reported to have a 43.3 percent reduction in the hay supply. This followed the reduced hay inventories of 14.3 percent coming into the growing season.

According to the USDA, the total hay supplies for the United States are down 16 percent from 2011, and there is the lowest amount of hay on farms in the United States since 1957.

What this means to producers is supply and demand is driving hay prices higher. Recent reports are that the top prices for mixed grass/alfalfa hays in Michigan are selling for $300 to $380/ton. Lower priced hays are also being sold as well. The reduced inventory and increased pressure for acres from commodity crops (corn, soybeans and wheat) will make it hard for hay producers to replenish hay stocks, even if there is a normal growing season in 2013.

The Michigan Hay Sellers List is available for those that are buying or selling hay. To access the list, go to the Michigan Hay Sellers List website. For more information, contact Phil Kaatz, Lapeer County MSU Extension forage educator, toll-free at 888-678-3464, or Jerry Lindquist, Osceola County MSU Extension grazing educator, toll-free at the same number.

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