The outlook weather wise for this year’s hay crop is a mixed bag, however, overall the picture is much brighter at this time than it was a year ago.
Hay prices, while still high, have eased some and the prospects for an overall better hay crop in 2014 look good.
Of course, it all depends on where you are in regards to hay prices and growing conditions this season. By far, the area of most concern continues in the far west, southwest and portions of the Southern Rockies and the Southern Plains where very dry conditions persist. In those above mentioned areas, growing conditions are still poor and snow packs are below normal, especially in California, Nevada and New Mexico.
Very dry conditions also persist in southern Colorado, western Kansas, western Oklahoma and west Texas. Prospects for increased precipitation in those areas as well as the far west may not return until later this year and into 2015 as a developing El Nino weather pattern may help out these areas.
The prospects for a better hay crop look good in many areas that were in poor shape last year. In particular, from the Northern Rockies, east across the Northern Plains should have ample soil moisture and spring precipitation to help the hay crop along. One concern, however, will be the possibility of cooler than normal temperatures deep into the spring season which may delay the first cutting, this will be especially true in the Dakotas, Minnesota and the in the Great Lakes region. Conditions are still drier than normal but better than a year ago across Nebraska, Iowa and central and eastern areas of Kansas and Oklahoma.
The most recent drought monitor below highlights the area of concern (dry) and the areas of better soil moisture and conditions for this season’s hay crop.