Hay production in the Southeast is estimated to be down by slightly less than one million tons as compared to 2016 levels according to USDA-NASS (National Agricultural Statistics Service) based on crop conditions as of August 1. This is approximately a three percent decrease in production. In Mississippi, production is projected to be approximately the same as last year at only a one percent decrease. Elsewhere in the U.S., there are sharp increases and decreases.
A recent publication from the Livestock Marketing Information Center shows an estimated U.S. hay harvest is 132.6 million tons, down 2% from last year. The estimate of area harvested was unchanged from the figure shown in their June acreage report and only up a fraction of a percent from last year. All other hay production is close to unchanged from last year. Drought in the Dakotas and Montana pulled down non-Alfalfa hay production. Average per-acre hay yields in North Dakota dropped 24% for Alfalfa hay and 37% for other types of hay. North Dakota hay production is pegged to be down 28% from last year. South Dakota hay production is expected to be down 8% from last year. The big difference between North Dakota and South Dakota hay crops is the 14% increase in harvested area of other hays than Alfalfa. The increase in area harvested offset the average harvest per acre. Between these two states, Alfalfa area harvested was unchanged from 2016 to 2017. Average Alfalfa harvest yield in South Dakota was down 10% from 2016, a much more modest decline than in North Dakota. Hay production in Montana is down 13% this year.
Hay production was up in some regions, in order to counter-balance the declines in the Northern Plains. Alabama, Georgia and North Carolina are all seeing hay production volume up by a double-digit percent this year. Colorado Alfalfa hay production is up 15%. Iowa Alfalfa production is up by a similar amount, percent and volume-wise. Interestingly, two states contiguous to Colorado and Iowa are showing big declines in Alfalfa production. The Kansas harvest is down 14% and Minnesota Alfalfa output is down 21%. Lastly, production on non-Alfalfa type hay in Oklahoma is down 16%, for the most part due to less harvested area. Alfalfa hay production in Oklahoma is picking up some of the slack, offsetting about half the decline in other types of hay.