First cutting is complete in New Mexico, and water will start to be turned off next week in preparation for 2nd cutting. Quality and color from growers throughout the area are favorable, and we are seeing good export quality grades. Temperatures continue to rise in Arizona, and 5th cutting has started in some areas. The first 10% of 5th cutting received some rain earlier in the week, however growers are continuing and will work to navigate good weather windows as they begin baling.
Growers in Washington State have wrapped up 1st cutting, and are expected to begin 2nd cutting this week in the South Columbia Basin. In Oregon, precipitation in many areas has affected quality, and we are seeing lower grades from this region. As 1st cutting continues, there is some over maturity on Alfalfa that has not already been harvested and growers are working to find good opportunities to cut remaining fields.
Our buyers and sales team are working closely to determine inventory needs for our overseas partners, and we are confident in our Western US supply platforms. Please communicate Alfalfa new crop inventory needs with your sales representative.
Potential storms this week in the Pacific Northwest have stalled first cutting at the risk of over maturity of some fields. About 50% of what has already been cut has been affected by rain, however there is still about 30% left to cut in the Kittitas Valley and 10% left in the basin. Quality will be determined once hay has been baled.
At the end of 1st cutting, we are seeing pressure on pricing of upper grades that was originally expected to soften at the beginning of the season. There will be good opportunity on lower grades at more competitive pricing.
Harvest has begun for annual orchard and early varieties of Fescue, and baling is expected to begin at the end of next week. Yields are lower than previous years, however we have no quality concerns and harvest is moving along smoothly.