Hay is a catchall term for forage plants, typically grasses such as timothy and Sudan-grass, and legumes such as alfalfa and clover. Alfalfa and alfalfa mixtures account for nearly half of all hay production. Hay is generally used to make cured feed for livestock. Curing, which is the proper drying of hay, is necessary to prevent spoilage. Hay, when properly cured, contains about 20% moisture. If hay is dried excessively, however, there is a loss of protein, which makes it less effective as livestock feed. Hay is harvested in virtually all of the lower 48 states.
Prices - The average monthly price of hay received by U.S. farmers in the first eight months of the 2007-08 marketing year (May 2007 through April 2008) as of December 2007 rose by +18.0% yr/yr to a record high of $131.25 per ton The farm production value of hay produced in 2006-07 (latest data available) was $13.506 million.
Supply - U.S. hay production in 2006-07 fell -6.2% yr/yr to 141.7 million tons. U.S. farmers harvested 60.807 million acres of hay in 2006-07, down -1.4% yr/yr. The yield in 2006-07 was 2.33 tons per acre, down from the 2004-05 record high of 2.55. U.S. carryover (May 1) in 2006-07 fell -23.1% to 21.3 million tons.
The largest hay producing states in the U.S. for 2006 are California (with 6.4% of U.S. hay production), Texas (6.1%), Missouri (4.9%), Minnesota (4%), Idaho (4.0%), Nebraska (4.0%), South Dakota (3.0%), and Oklahoma (2.5%).