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Published August 08, 2009, 12:00 AM

Bales of Bounty

This year is shaping up to be one heck of a hay crop compared to last year, a state official said.

By: Beth Wischmeyer, The Dickinson Press

This year is shaping up to be one heck of a hay crop compared to last year, a state official said.

Increased moisture levels and stable temperatures have allowed most producers to put up a good crop.

“It’s a welcome change, said Julie Ellingson, executive vice president of the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association. “There are still pockets where they didn’t have the ample moisture so there are some exceptions. But by in large the hay crop is considerably better than last year and the grass and the pastures are considerably better as well.”

During last year’s drought conditions and harsh winter conditions from last year to this year, producers were in need of a good crop to bounce back, Ellingson said.

“Last year we were experiencing one of the worst droughts we’ve had on record; we didn’t put up as much hay,” Ellingson said. “Winter started early, it was intense and it lasted longer. Those four components working together really diminished the hay supply folks had on hand. I think in most places this ample crop is really going to replenish those hay yards.”

A wetter, cooler spring and summer has slowed some hay production including alfalfa, she added. In cutting hay, producers have had to work around periods of rain.

“I still think they are just so much farther ahead in putting up some good forage and having some available,” Ellingson said. “One producer said ‘even if my hay is getting rained on the grass is growing in my pastures so at least I can be happy about that’.”

Ken Hutzenbiler, a farmer who resides about 10 miles south of Belfield, said the hay crop is significantly better this year.

“I’m pretty much all done with haying except for some odds and ends,” Hutzenbiler said.

Hutzenbiler said he had to bring hay to feed his approximate 80-cow operation, cutting some Conservation Reserve Program forage and winter wheat that was hailed out.

“I think we should be set this year,” Hutzenbiler said. “It should get us through.”

Ellingson said she hopes that those areas that did not receive the needed moisture are close enough to areas that did to purchase animal food supply if needed.

“Last year so much of the state was dry all across the board, people really had to look a long ways away to find forage even to purchase,” Ellingson said. “What we’re hopeful for is that everybody has a good opportunity to get their hay up and it continues to be timely rains and they get their work done.”