RICHLAND, Wash. – Hay farmers in Eastern Washington are beginning to cut their fields. It’s the first harvest of the Northwest hay season. New numbers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture show there’s less hay left over from last year. That’s good news for alfalfa and timothy growers.
There aren’t many tall hay stacks left in Eastern Washington. In fact, the USDA says there’s 34 percent less hay stored now than last year.
That means there’s more urgency for dairies and overseas customers to buy this summer’s crop – creating a bullish market for hay.
Drex Gaunt is an alfalfa grower near Burbank, Washington, and board member of the Washington Hay Growers Association. He says beyond a shortage of stacks, many farmers have been spraying out and plowing under their hay fields because of good potato, corn, bean and wheat prices.
“The biggest thing is that there’s been decreased production," Gaunt says. "Because farmers have different options for other crops that the market is better.”
Hay prices depend heavily on the weather: A good rain while hay is drying could ruin many bales. That could shrink the amount of quality hay available and drive up demand for the season’s remaining hay.
Copyright 2012 Northwest Public Radio