Top-quality hay supplies might bale out on buyers


WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – While the hay supply should be adequate this year, quality hay will be harder to come by, according to a Purdue University expert.

“Available supplies of high-quality dairy and horse hay aren’t likely to be larger than one year ago due to frequent spring and early summer rains that reduced the quality of the first and second crops,” said David Petritz, professor of agricultural economics and director of the Purdue Cooperative Extension Service.

Highs and lows. The 2003 hay harvest is forecasted to be 24.6 percent higher than last summer, but it will be low in quality like last year’s harvest, Petritz said.

He urges those in need of hay to purchase it now.

“If I were short of quality hay, I would be looking now because I don’t think it is going to be there later,” he said.

Buying now also will alleviate the chance of paying higher prices this winter when hay is in shorter supply.

Pricing. “If dry weather continues, prices will probably head up aggressively going into winter,” Petritz said.

“Prices, however, won’t be as high as last year unless we have a late, cold winter.”

Indiana’s neighboring states have had some blows to their hay crops, as well.

“Severe winter weather, combined with a wet spring and a dry summer, reduced the production forecast for Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan,” Petritz said.

“Estimated supplies of hay in Ohio and Michigan are smaller than the reduced levels of one year ago.”

National levels. He said the national hay outlook is good, with a 6 percent larger yield than last year.

With a lack of high-quality hay in Indiana, some farmers could look elsewhere.

“Many dairy producers can’t find enough quantity of quality hay on a year-round basis, so they turn west for hay,” Petritz said.


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