– James Mitchell, Livestock Marketing Specialist, University of Arkansas
Last week USDA-NASS published their 2021 Crop Production Summary. The report includes information about U.S. hay production and December 1 hay stocks. USDA splits hay data into two categories, alfalfa and all other hay. All other hay is the relevant category for the Southeast.
All other hay production totaled 70.951 million tons in 2021, down 3.8% from the prior year. Several southern states had year-over-year declines in hay production. All other hay production declined 2.3%, 2.7%, and 16.1% in Tennessee, Arkansas, and Mississippi. Alabama hay production declined 6.7% year-over-year. All other hay production increased 6.7% in Kentucky.
Smaller 2021 hay production followed a decline in harvested acres. Nationally, harvested acres for the other hay category declined by 1.4%. In the Southeast (AL, AR, FL, GA, KY, LA, MS, NC, SC, TN, VA, WV), harvested acreage decreased 4.2% year-over-year. Harvested acreage in Arkansas and Mississippi declined 7.1% and 4.6%, respectively. Kentucky harvested acreage declined 1.5%.
As of December 1, 2021, hay stocks totaled 79.016 million tons, down 6.0% from the previous year. December 1 hay stocks are the lowest since 2012. In the Southeast, December 1 hay stocks declined 4.3%. December 1 hay stocks dropped 5.6% and 4.8% in Arkansas and Mississippi, respectively. Kentucky hay stocks declined 2.0%.
All else equal, smaller production and tighter stocks mean higher prices. The most recent data for November has hay prices averaging $147/ton or 8.9% higher year-over-year. Hay prices will continue to increase through the winter. Hay prices in February and March typically average 1.4% and 3.6% above the annual price. This winter, we could see hay prices average $150-$160/ton.