Hay Production…

Here’s my hubby from the front page of  The Daily Interlake….


Dry conditions cut hay yields

/Daily Inter Lake By LYNNETTE HINTZE/

Daily Inter Lake Published: Tuesday, July 21, 2009 11:17 PM CDT

 Below-normal precipitation in the Flathead Valley took a toll on the first cutting of dryland hay with lower-than-normal yields. “Dryland hay was highly variable, from virtually none to about 1 1/2 tons per acre,” said Markus Braaten, a Kalispell field agronomist for CHS. Some West Valley farmers didn’t make a first cutting at all because of the poor yield. “On average, production is down from last year, with not much appreciable rain to push the yield on the first cut,” Braaten said. Irrigated hayland fared much better, with roughly 2 1/2 to 3 tons per acre. That’s still somewhat below the average of about 4 tons per acre. The heavy rainfall that produced up to 2 inches of precipitation in some areas of the Flathead on July 13 came too late to make a difference for the first cutting and in fact damaged a “fair portion” of hay that was down when the rain came, Braaten said. He advised buyers to check quality of hay that was rain-laden before it was harvested. Dryland hay harvest is still under way in the North Valley, where fields in the Voerman Road area were cut after the heavy rainfall. “There has been some insect pressure from weevils and hoppers’ throughout the valley, Braaten added. As for a second cutting, there may not be much of a harvest unless the valley gets some significant rainfall, he said. Last year, 33,700 tons of hay were harvested on 14,500 acres in Flathead County, with an average yield of 2.32 tons per acre. Irrigated hayland yielded an average of 3.32 tons per acre last year, while dryland hay was 1.8 tons per acre, according to the National Agriculture Statistics Service. In 2007, hay production was substantially higher in the Flathead, with 26,500 acres harvested and a total production of 67,000 tons. With reduced yields this year, prices could be higher, Braaten said. “With prices it’s hard to get folks to commit, but I’m hearing $130 to $150 per ton,” he said. “It could be a bit higher with the reduced yield.” Features editor Lynnette Hintze may be reached at 758-4421 or by e-mail at lhintze@dailyinterlake.com Copyright © 2009 – Northwest Montana Daily Inter Lake