Many hay producers report yields down some on first crop cuttings


ST. IGNATIUS, Mont. - Many hay producers in Western Montana report the yield on first crop cuttings is down some from past years.

The Farm Services Agency in Ronan said it appears to be an average year so far.

A cold, dry, spring set back crops, especially if they weren't irrigated. Quality is said to be average to good, and all usable.

Marion Bennett raises horses on his ranch in Lake County. He points to 30 acres of hay land that produced 84 round bales last year. This year, Bennett said he harvested 62 round bales.

The Farm Services Agency said the best demand for hay is from out-of-state buyers.

Prices are steady and still in the discovery stage. The agency said prices will depend on drought conditions and the quality of the second cutting, which is just starting.

The agency doesn't expect there will be a shortage of hay. But don't look for an abundance either.

There's good to very good demand for all classes of hay.

"Because of the droughts," said senior loan officer Kim Adams, "and also the heavy rains that we received in the state. People aren't able to get out in the fields. We're dealing with a lot of floods now too. They're not going to have hay in the fall."

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