New U.S. seedings of alfalfa and alfalfa mixtures increased by 5% last year over the 2.39 million acres planted in 2012. It was the second year in a row to see an increase, even though it’s the third-lowest total of newly seeded acres on record, according to the 2013 Crop Production Summary released by USDA in early January.
Still, the back-to-back years of gains represent good news for the hay and forage sector, says Matt Diersen, ag ecnomist with South Dakota State University.
“Nationwide, we had 2.5 million new acres planted in 2013,” says Diersen. “That tells me we could be coming off the bottom for really low, harvested (alfalfa) acres. Any way you look at it, that’s a good thing. Without some additional acres, we’re going to have continued swings in supplies and prices and more volatility in the market. This, at least, is a move in the right direction.”
Also, U.S. hay production rebounded last year from the extremely low levels of 2012. Growers produced 136 million tons of all hay in 2013, up 13% from the previous year’s total, USDA reports. Area harvested was estimated at 58.3 million acres, up 4% from that harvested last year. The average yield, at 2.33 tons/acre, was up 0.20 ton from the previous year’s average yield.
For alfalfa, USDA estimated 2013 production at 57.6 million tons, up 11% from 2012 production. Harvested area, at 17.8 million acres, was 3% higher than in 2012, while average yield was estimated at 3.24 tons/acre, up 0.23 ton.
In its Jan. 10 Crop Production report, USDA estimated that hay stocks on U.S. farms as of Dec. 1, 2013, totaled 89.3 million tons, an increase of 17% from the year-earlier figure. Disappearance from May 1 to Dec. 1 was 60.5 million tons vs. 64.7 million tons during the same period in 2012.
(Source – http://www.farms.com/news/is-an-acreage-comeback-looming-for-alfalfa-72387.aspx)