The wet and cool summer continues to cause problems for Columbia Basin Alfalfa hay growers. The unpredictable weather has produced rain and heavy dews across much of the area. The difficult conditions will result in lower tons of Premium 2nd Cutting Alfalfa.
In the Souther Basin farmers ahave had problems getting hay cut and baled under good conditions. Early estimates are that 5-10% of the 2nd cutting Alfalfa baled in the Southern Basin will be Premium hay. We expect that 65% will make the #1 grade and the remaining hay to all be lower grade.
Growers in the Northern Basin have faced many of the same issues. About 40% of the fields were cut and laying in the field when rain showers covered most of the area. Growers are now waiting to cut the remaining fields, hoping to find a window of good weather.
The Straw harvest is also struggling to cut and bale under decent conditions. Scattered showers last week continued to frustrate farmers throughout the Willamette Valley. Unfortunately, all of the Orchard Straw and Annual Rye straw has already been swathed in the South Willamette Valley along with 90% of the Fescue straw. It remains to be seen what impact the rain has had on the Straw harvest in the South Willamette Valley. Gowers in the North have not yet cut their straw fields and the recent rains should not affect the quality of Straw from the North Willamette Valley. Growers hope to get their fields swathed and baled under dry weather conditions. Though Straw acreage is similar to 2010, the lack of carry over in the market will lead to a shorter supply of Straw for the 2011 growing season.