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Idaho's first hay crop: late

Meridian—The Idaho 2020 hay crop is late. The first cut usually comes at the end of May. But this year, three weeks of rain that's nearly 3 inches, slowed the first harvest.

“Everything was going really good then we had rains come in again, the weather changed. For the past three weeks, we’ve been doing other things instead of hay because the weather wasn’t cooperating. So today we’re finally cutting some first cut and it's gone way past where we want it, but we’re going to go ahead and put it up. Get the ball rolling, everything in motion and hopefully we will put up some pretty hay and do it on time,” said Washington County farmer Tristan Winegar.

With that rain and the delay in cutting, buyers are concerned there’s less high-testing, high-appearance hay than normal for the first cutting. So far, prices on new crop alfalfa are averaging $15 to $20 lower than last year and farmer Neal Durrant of Meridian explains:

“You got to look at the overall picture, where the cattle market is at, where the cattle market is lower, where dairy is lower and so with those prices being lower its pushing the hay market lower and it's creating a struggle for us as hay growers, how do we sell our hay but still make a profit on it, make payments and continue to be able to keep doing that,” said Durrant.

And growers agree there’s still too much hay in the Idaho market.

“And now this has made it so that high-quality hay is going to be worth a lot more but regular quality hay, there’s going to be a lot of it, the market will get flooded and there will be plenty of feeder hay for this coming season,” said Winegar. Farmers are now preparing for a later than normal second crop of hay, hoping the hot dry days of summer returns to Idaho.