As of May 1, U.S. hay stocks were 21.4 million tons, nearly 1 million below levels a year ago. All hay production in 2011/12, at 131.1 million tons, is down 10 percent from the previous year. RCAUs for 2011/12 are down just over 2 percent and are expected to slide further in 2012/13. All hay stored on farms May 1, 2012, totaled 21.4 million tons, down 4 percent from a year ago. Disappearance from December 1, 2011, through May 1, 2012, totaled 69.3 million tons, compared with 79.9 million tons for the same period a year ago. This is the smallest disappearance during the 6-month period since 1985. Hay disappearance per RCAU for the entire 2011/12 hay marketing year (May 1 through April 30) fell to 1.947 tons, down from the 2010/11 estimate of 2.082 tons.

Compared with last year, hay stocks as a share of production increased across much of the Northern Tier and in many Eastern States. Mild temperatures coupled with limited snowpack left many pastures and ranges accessible to livestock herds for longer periods of time during the winter, enabling producers to feed less hay. Similarly, beneficial rainfall throughout much of the spring and summer boosted pasture growth in many Atlantic Coast States, delaying the need for supplemental feedstuffs as winter approached.

Hay stocks slip

Elsewhere, on-farm stocks declined from levels of a year ago in a number Great Plains States, as prolonged drought conditions hampered pasture growth and forced many livestock producers to feed an increased amount of hay to their herds.

Corn silage production is estimated at 108.9 million tons in 2011, compared with 107.3 in 2010. Silage yield in 2011 is estimated at 18.4 tons per acre, below the record 19.3 tons in 2009 and 2010. Acreage harvested for silage, at 5.9 million acres, advanced from 5.6 million a year ago.