U.S. all-hay production in 2012/13 is forecast at 121.97 million short tons, down from 131.14 million tons in 2011/12. Total harvested area for 2012/13, at 57.6 million acres, is up 3.5 percent from the 2011/12 estimate of 55.6 million acres. The increase in harvested acres is more than offset by declines in yields for other hay and alfalfa hay and mixtures. Roughage-consuming animal units (RCAU) are projected to be 67.07 in 2012/13, down from 67.91 in 2011/12. Despite reductions in RCAUs, the all-hay production decline results in a net drop in hay supply per RCAU of 0.12 tons to 2.14 tons per RCAU, compared to 2.26 tons per RCAU in 2011/12. In recognition of the need for additional hay, Conservation Reserve Program land will be open to grazing through November 2012.
Production of alfalfa hay and alfalfa mixtures is forecast at 55.57 million tons, up 1 percent from the August forecast but down 15 percent from last year. Based on October 1 conditions, the estimated yield is adjusted upward by a modest 0.03 tons per acre relative to the August forecast. The 2012/13 alfalfa hay and mixtures yield is forecast to be 2.95 tons per acre, a 0.45-ton-per-acre reduction in yield relative to the 2011/12 estimate of 3.40 tons per acre. If realized, the forecast yield will be the lowest since 1988. Harvested area is down 2 percent from the previous year at 18.8 million acres, with major declines attributed to Montana, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
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Other hay production is forecast at 66.4 million tons, an increase of 1 percent from both the August forecast and the previous year. Based on October 1 conditions, yields are expected to average 1.71 tons per acre, up 0.02 tons from August but down 0.10 tons from the previous year. Harvested area, at 38.8 million acres, is up more than 6 percent over the 2011/12 estimate of 36.4 million acres.