Dry conditions are stressing the hay crop in Ohio
Lack of precipitation in Ohio has drastically reduced the hay crop for many farmers and is adding pressure to already tight supplies.
Jeff Magyar is in northeast Ohio near the Pennsylvania border. “I’m hearing from most guys it’s down 50 to 60 percent,” he says. “And hay was already expensive and $6-7 for small square bales. With the prospect of no second cutting, hay is going to be a very tight commodity.”
Northwest Ohio farmer Nathan Eckel says yields have also been down in his part of the state. “Except for the guys who had orchard grass mixed in, it seemed like the orchard grass did really good in this dry weather,” he says. “Guys that had that orchard grass out there within that alfalfa did fairly decent, I would say maybe 10 to 15% off the normal crop.”
He tells Brownfield pests became a problem earlier than normal. “That was a lot of the reason for guys cutting hay around here,” he says. “We had had a lot of alfalfa Weevil around, so rather than guys spray and they just cut early because we had good weather to make hay.”
Bill Bayliss in central Ohio says the quality was good, but the tonnage was down. “It all got made early,” he says. “So if we would get normal rains, we’d probably get a decent second cutting.” Bayliss says they still have a lot of leftover hay from the 2022 season, so they won’t be short supplies even if they aren’t able to get a second cutting.
According to the latest Drought Monitor, about 62 percent of the state is experiencing moderate drought conditions.