Rains delay Northwest hay cuttings
Weather delays have created challenges for hay production across the Northwest. In Idaho, spring thunderstorms delayed the first cutting. Rains from Hurricane Hilary reached Idaho in late August, though luckily many hay producers had time to plan and avoid rain damage. A trough of cold weather brought more rainfall to eastern Idaho in late September, damaging the final cutting. The third alfalfa cutting is mostly complete, but the fourth cutting is behind with only 34% completed on September 24.
In Oregon, hay producers were initially delayed in starting the first cutting and rain delayed harvest. The production outlook is a mixed bag for Oregon as some regions are still dealing with drought. Straw yields were as much as 50% lower than last year’s yields.
Washington’s Columbia Basin has seen less rain and test quality for first cutting is lower than producers hoped. Hay conditions in Washington are generally good, but prices have declined. Fourth cutting for alfalfa is ahead of the five-year average with 69% complete during the last week of September. Conditions were dry in mid-September when Washington wrapped up final grass cuttings.
In Montana, rainfall has been the driving factor for hay quality. Hay conditions vary greatly across the state. Second cutting in Montana is about two to three weeks behind normal harvest timelines. Local demand for hay remains light while straw demand has been moderate. Many ranchers say they won't need to buy much (if any) hay this year as they were able to put up enough of their own hay.