Local Farmers paying record prices for hay

Published 03/21 2013 02:53PM

Updated 03/21 2013 06:10PM

REEDSVILLE, Wis. (WFRV) - Hay supplies in parts of Wisconsin  are at 50 year lows. Shortages are likely to get worse before summer.


Now the layer of ice on fields is making farmers even more nervous.


Those are two reasons why bids at local hay auctions are pushing higher and higher.


"There are some people who stand by the load they want and they'll bid until they get it" says Greg Cummings, Market Manager.


A drought last summer left many farmers without the crop they need to feed their cows.


Nationwide production dipped to the lowest level since 1964.


"Which in turn is driving the price of hay up to levels we haven't seen ever or for a long time" says Mark Hagedorn, Agriculture Educator for the Brown County UW Extension.


The hay auction in Reedsville is the largest in the state of Wisconsin. Because of demand and quality of hay it is drawing buyers from around the country.


"It has been pretty strong" Cummings says. "A lot of good hay around $300 or more per ton".  


That is a $100 price increase per ton over prices at this time last year.


Joe Heyroth  lucked out with rain this summer at his Mishicot farm. He hopes to make around $3,000 with his load.


"This is third crop alfalfa" Heyroth explains. "It did get some rain on so it is not really fancy hay, but at this point if you're short of hay, hay is hay and the girls gotta eat you know" he says with a laugh.  


Looking at local fields many farmers do not have a sunny outlook for this year's crop.


"With the melting occurring it froze and we developed a sheet of ice. Like all living organisms if you cannot get any oxygen to them they can basically smother" Hagedorn explains.


While mother nature likely won't reveal the damage until May, sellers like Heyroth are willing to roll the dice to cash in on what crops they have now.


"You gotta make hay when the sun shines, and the sun is shining now" Heyroth says. "
A lot of years you do not make this kind of money so you gotta go by that".


It is not just alfalfa crops that farmers are worried about.


Wheat and perennial grasses can also suffer from winter kill.

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