The drought we’re experiencing is taking a toll on area cattlemen. Even good market prices won’t support a rancher having to buy hay to feed during the summer months when cattle should be grazing pastures. Add to that very little local hay production, and it paints a pretty bleak picture that could extend all the way into next year’s growing season. Joe Brown has more in this week’s From The Ground Up.
"Our current weather conditions, we have this high that’s been sitting on us a good long while now, with the jet stream swinging up and our western moisture seems like it wants to go up through New Mexico through the mid west and kind of arch over the Dakotas and come back down to the Mississippi valley and back to the east."
No, Randy Britten isn’t a meteorologist. He’s a local hay producer.
"We just have zero moisture in the ground. We have a little, we’ll get a quick shower or something, we’ll have topical moisture at the surface, we just don’t have any moisture into the lower subsoil levels."
And grass doesn’t grow without water.
"Our first cutting of hay was off 40%, and this time the middle of July we should be at the end of our third cutting, and we haven’t started the second much less thinking about the third."
Hay growers from the Midwest to the Dakotas have had problems with too much rain.
"Three weeks ago, a gentleman I deal with in Colorado, said that there hasn’t been any green hay put up, and in a hay man’s term that would be all rained on hay up to that point."
The search for hay supplies is ongoing.
"Round bales are almost non-existent in the state of Texas today. As we bring in our northern hay in the big square bales, it’s, our current inventory, we have a nice supply right now, but it will not last very long. We’ll have to keep doing this all through the winter. It’s just July. It’s a long way ‘til next May when we start our first cutting again."
And of course, the farther north the hay originates, the more the freight adds to the cost of an already expensive input. I’m Joe Brown, looking at Brazos Valley agriculture, From The Ground Up.