Alfalfa Hay Production Seen Down 4%

Production of alfalfa and alfalfa mixture dry hay for 2017 was forecast by the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service last week at 56.2 million short tons, down 4% from 2016.

Based on Aug. 1 conditions, yields were expected to average 3.28 tons an acre, down 0.17 ton from last year.  Harvested area was forecast at 17.1 million acres, unchanged from the June forecast but up 1% from 2016.

Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota, the top three States in area of alfalfa and alfalfa mixtures in 2017, have experienced drought conditions this year.  As a result, each of these States were expecting lower yields than a year ago, NASS said.

Record-high yields were expected in Arizona, Idaho and Oregon in 2017.




Production of other hay was forecast at 76.4 million short tons, down less than 1% from 2016, NASS said.  Based on Aug. 1 conditions, yields were expected to average 2.10 tons an acre, up 0.01 ton from last year.

If realized, the 2017 average yield will be a record high for the US.

Harvested area was forecast at 36.4 million acres, unchanged from the June forecast but down less than 1% from 2016.

Outside of the drought-stricken states of Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota, limited hay acres have experienced drought conditions this year.  As a result, Idaho, Missouri, North Carolina and Texas were expecting record high yields.




Disappearance was expected to be up this year from 2016 at 142.61 million short tons, up 1.38 million, or about 0.98%.

Disappearance as a percent of production also was expected to rise.  With production this year pegged at 162.81 million short tons, disappearance will use up 87.6%.  This is up from last year when disappearance amounted to 141.23 million tons, 85.7% of the 164.73 million produced.




With the lower production forecast, all hay stocks were expected to be lower this year as well at 162.81 million short tons.  This breaks down into the May 1 carryover at 23.5 million short tons and the all-hay production of 139.31 million tons.

That was down from last year when all hay stocks amounted to 164.73 million short tons.  Broken down, there were an estimated 25.14 million tons carried into the new crop year on May 1 and production of 139.59 million.

This year’s total hay availability was estimated to be the largest since 2010 when total stocks came to 156.56 million short tons – 20.931 million carry over and 145.624 million in new production.




The weighted average of fed cattle sold on the livestock exchange video auction Wednesday was $115.04 per cwt, down $0.96 from $116.00 the previous week.  Cattle with 1- to 9-day delivery sold at $115.28, versus $116 the previous week.  Those with 1- to 17-day delivery sold at $114.50, and cattle with 17- to 30-day delivery sold at $114.00.

Cash trading took place last week at $114 to $116 per cwt on a live basis, mostly $115, down about $2 from the previous week.  Dressed action was reported at $184 to $185, down about $2.

The USDA’s choice cutout Monday was down $0.68 per cwt at $198.92, while select was up $0.32 at $196.44.  The choice/select spread narrowed to $2.48 from $3.48 with 80 loads of fabricated product sold into the spot market.

The CME Feeder Cattle index for the seven days ended Friday was $145.90 per cwt, down $0.06.  This compares with Monday’s Aug settlement at $142.30, up $0.52.