Agronomy -- Forages -- Alfalfa

Field of alfalfa and conventional silo plus plastic bag silo storage. Morrison County dairy farm, south of Pillager and north of Randall, Minnesota. Alfalfa research is part of University of MInnesota, Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station project #13-033, "Legumes in Cropping Systems." Principal investigator: Craig C. Sheaffer. Alfalfa beeding began at the U of MN in the 1890s, and continues today in cooperation with USDA-ARS.

With brutal cold across much of the Midwest, cattle, sheep and horses chewed through more hay than normal in late January and early February.

Even before the Arctic blast, hay supplies were limited.

The Feb. 8 USDA Hay Stocks report indicated all hay stored on U.S. farms as of Dec. 1, 2018, totaled 79.1 million tons, down 6 percent from the previous December 1.

Disappearance from May 1 to Dec. 1, 2018, totaled 59.9 million tons, compared with 68.2 million tons for the same period one year earlier.

The USDA reported this marked the lowest Dec. 1 hay stocks since the drought of 2012, and the second lowest since 1977.

The report also indicated the significantly below-normal January temperatures were mostly limited to the upper Great Lakes States. Meanwhile, monthly temperatures averaged at least 5 degrees F above normal across parts of the West and the northern High Plains.

The following are hay stocks on farms for selected states: Dec. 1, 2017 and 2018:


Dec. 1, 2017

Dec. 1, 2018 
 Idaho2.2 million tons2.4 million tons
Illinois 1.1 million tons850,000 tons
Indiana 1.15 million tons 820,000 tons 
Iowa 2.28 million tons 2.06 million tons


4.5 million tons4.3 million tons 
Minnesota 2.59 million tons2.04 million tons
Missouri 5.1 million tons4.2 million tons
Montana 3.65 million tons 4.2 million tons
Nebraska 4.18 million tons 4.5 million tons 
North Dakota 3.25 million tons4 million tons 
South Dakota 5.15 million tons5.35 million tons
Wisconsin2.65 million tons1.75 million tons