The October 9 Crop Production report forecasts all U.S. hay production in 2015 at 142.4 million tons, up 2.6 million from 2014 due to increased yields. Based on October 1 conditions, the all-hay yield is expected to be 2.52 tons per acre, up from 2.45 tons per acre in 2014. Harvested acres are forecast at 56.5 million acres, down slightly from 57.0 million last year.
Production of alfalfa hay and alfalfa mixtures is forecast at 63.2 million tons, up 2 percent from the August forecast and up 3 percent from 2014. Yields are forecast to average 3.45 tons per acre, a slight increase relative to the 3.33 tons per acre producers harvested in 2014. Drought conditions in West Coast States sapped yields; elsewhere, such as in parts of the Corn Belt, good moisture boosted yields. Area harvest is virtually unchanged from last year at 18.3 million acres.
The October 9 Crop Production report indicates that other hay production is down slightly from the August forecast to 79.2 million tons. Yields are down 0.02 tons per acre to 2.07 tons but up from the 2.03 tons per acre harvested in 2014. This forecast exceeds the previous yield record in 2004 by 0.01 tons per acre. Roughage-consuming animal units (RCAUs) in 2015/16 is estimated at 69.98 million, up 3 percent from 2014/15. Despite the higher RCAUs, the year-to-year increase in expected hay production results in a slight increase in hay supply per RCAU, forecast at 2.39 tons for 2015/16, compared with 2.34 tons in 2014/15.