Wyoming faces worst hay crop in decades

Tuesday, August 14, 2012
By Paul Martin


CHEYENNE — Wyoming is facing one of its worst hay harvests in terms of acreage in nearly 80 years, according to new U.S. Agriculture Department estimates.

Hay is Wyoming’s biggest cash crop, and it also is suffering the most from a lack of rain earlier in the season.

USDA crop yield estimates released late last week project Wyoming’s overall hay harvest this year to yield about 925,000 acres of hay.

If realized, that would make 2012 the single worst year for Wyoming hay acreage since the Dust Bowl days of 1934.

The overall tonnage of hay expected to be harvested in Wyoming is 1.82 million tons, down 23 percent from 2011 and the worst production since 2002.

Other crops are faring better this year, particularly sugar beets and dry edible beans. Yields are expected to rise by 23 and 36 percent, respectively.

The poor hay crop has sent hay prices soaring, according to Todd Ballard, director of the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service office in Cheyenne.

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