Did 2011 leave you foraging for feed?
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• U.S. production of all other hay was the lowest since 1990; har-
vested area was the smallest since 1998.
• Forage: Total 2011 all haylage and greenchop production in 18 sur-
veyed states was about 32.0 million tons, of which 20.5 million tons were
from alfalfa and alfalfa mixtures. Total haylage production was down
5% from 2010; total forage harvested area was down 7%; total forage
production was down 11%.
Lower acreage and production translated into lower hay stocks. As of
Dec. 1, 2011, hay stored on farms was down 11.4 million tons (-11%)
from 2010 and down 13.6 million tons from 2007. It was the lowest U.S.
Dec. 1 stocks estimate since 1988.
Looking for 2012 prospects? According to USDA’s March 30 Pro-
spective Plantings report, U.S. producers intend to harvest 57.3 million
acres of all hay in 2012, up 3% from last year’s record low. If realized,
it will still be the second smallest harvested area on record. Generally,
all hay harvested acreage east of the Mississippi River is expected to
decrease in 2012. Conversely, producers from the Great Plains westward
intend to harvest more hay this season following the unusually dry condi-
tions that limited hay production in 2011.
At 2.32 million acres, 2011 new seedings of alfalfa and alfalfa mix-
tures were a record low, down 9% from 2010 (down 224,000 acres from
2010 and down 507,000 acres from 2007).
The lone exception to the declining forage total was corn silage, with
harvested acreage and total production the highest since 2008. Produc-
tion was up 2% from 2010; harvested area was up 6%. p