With severe and extreme drought expanding throughout the state this growing season, some cuttings of hay and pasture haven’t been as productive as years past. The Montana Department of Agriculture’s Hay Hotline is available to producers as an online tool to connect buyers and sellers of hay and pasture.
“We started the Hay Hotline during the droughts that impacted the state in nineties. Ever since it went online, it has been a popular and useful tool for producers when they are in need or looking to sell. Even in a good year parts of our state can be dry or unproductive and the hotline is an easy tool to find the resources needed,” said Director Ron de Yong.
The U.S. Drought Monitor shows that abnormally dry to extreme drought conditions cover nearly three-fourths of the state. With the relatively mild winter and low snow pack, many areas reported that grass and grazing pasture was not in good shape. The most recent crop progress report by National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) rated pasture and rangeland as 26 percent either poor or very poor, 42 percent as fair, 28 percent as good, and only 4 percent as excellent. The 5-year average for pasture and rangeland in Montana is 19 percent poor or very poor, 24 percent fair, 38 percent good, and 19 percent excellent.
“We didn’t get off to a great start this year and it’s really showed up in the dryland grass and summer rangeland. Most people have gotten their first cut of hay done but they are worried about getting a second cut this year,” explained de Yong.
The latest NASS report also showed that 91 percent of the first alfalfa hay and 88 percent of other hay cutting was complete, “that is about 20 percent ahead of our typical five-year average,” according to de Yong. “If we continue to get some moisture, maybe we can get another cutting or two to carry producers through the winter.”
The department maintains the Hay Hotline as a service to the agricultural industry, making it available with the expectation that all buyers and sellers will treat each other in an equitable and lawful manner. Visit the online tool at agr.mt.gov/agr/Producer/HayHotline/.
The Montana Department of Agriculture’s mission is to protect producers and consumers, and to enhance and develop agriculture and allied industries. For more information on the department, visit agr.mt.gov.