BUFFALO — An unseasonably cool, wet May and June has put the first cutting of hay slightly behind schedule in Johnson County and Wyoming.
“It’s at least two weeks behind,” said Blaine Horn, University of Wyoming Extension rangeland educator. “Maybe as much as three.”
Horn said that, as a rule, the third week of June is when producers start cutting hay. This year, there is still a lot of hay to be cut in the county.
That is consistent with what is happening across the state. According to the most recent crop progress report from the USDA Agricultural Statistics Service, for the week ending June 30, 46% of first-cutting alfalfa in the state had been harvested. Typically, by the last week in June, 67% of first-cutting alfalfa has been harvested.
“The alfalfa’s set back a little bit — it’s a warm season forage. But we’ll come out of it all right, I think,” said Larry Vignaroli, a Johnson County hay producer.
Vignaroli said his operation has baled about 120 acres and has an additional 40 acres cut.
“We’re just waiting for it to dry out under the raindrops,” he said.
Hay production is a $12.9 million dollar business in Johnson County, with producers putting up more than 94,900 tons of hay, according to the 2018 Wyoming Agricultural Statistics bulletin. It’s the county’s second-largest agricultural product by dollar volume, behind only beef. While the weather may be slowing the harvest, it has not adversely impacted the volume of the grass hay, according to Vignaroli.
By Jen Sieve-Hicks
Buffalo Bulletin Via Wyoming News Exchange