When it comes to forages, U.S. dairy producers are generally in better shape entering 2014 than they were a year ago, based on January USDA monthly and annual Crop Production reports, released Jan. 10. Going forward, a lot will depend on Mother Nature, and how much moisture she provides.
Hay stocks higher
USDA estimated all hay stored on U.S. farms on Dec. 1, 2013 totaled 89.3 million tons, up 17% from a year ago. Hay stocks were up from low 2012 levels as improved weather conditions lead to larger production totals in many states when compared with last year’s drought. Disappearance from May 1-Dec. 1, 2013 totaled 60.5 million tons, compared with 64.7 million tons for the same period a year earlier.
Among major dairy states, stocks in Arizona, Colorado, Florida and Texas were down slightly from a year ago; stocks in California, Oregon and Washington were unchanged; and stocks in Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin were higher.
Hay stocks decreased in the Southeast, Delta and Southwest where production was lower in 2013. To find the hay stocks data, click here.
New alfalfa seeding increased in 2013
Growers seeded 2.52 million acres of alfalfa and alfalfa mixtures during 2013, up 5% from 2012. This represents the second consecutive year of increased seeded area, but it is still the third smallest seeded area of alfalfa and alfalfa mixtures for the United States.
Despite higher levels in new seeding nationally, nearly half of all major dairy states saw declines compared to 2012. They included California, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington.
Compared to a year earlier, new seeding acreage was unchanged in Arizona, Michigan and Virginia.
Acreage increased in 10 states: Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Texas, Utah, Vermont and Wisconsin. Individual state data is not compiled for Florida.
In other major alfalfa hay producing states, new seeding acreage was higher in Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.
Production of all dry hay for 2013 was estimated at 136 million tons, up 13% from the 2012 total. Area harvested was estimated at 58.3 million acres, up 4% from last year. The average yield, at 2.33 tons per acre, was up 0.20 ton from the previous year.
Alfalfa and alfalfa mixtures
U.S. production of alfalfa and alfalfa mixture hay in 2013 was estimated at 57.6 million tons, up 11% from 2012. Harvested area, at 17.8 million acres, was 3% above the previous year. Average yield was estimated at 3.24 tons per acre, up 0.23 ton from 2012.