Hay production is in full swing in Nebraska, and the issue facing operators from across the state is the same – drought. Lack of moisture and an early, warm spring has left many producers with decreased yields, and an outlook that portends a continued decrease in production.

Nebraska is one of the top 10 alfalfa-producing states, and much of the hay that is produced is used within the state to feed cattle. This year, the first cutting is well ahead of schedule, with some producers already nearing a second cutting.

“The first cutting of alfalfa was 81% complete, well ahead of 7% last year and 25 days ahead of the 18% average. Concerns continued over insect activity. Alfalfa rated 1% very poor, 9% poor, 31% fair, 52% good, and 7% excellent, below 74% good to excellent last year and average,” according to the May 27 USDA NASS Crop Program Report for Nebraska.

In Southeast Nebraska, the alfalfa crop came on very quickly and early. “We had very little weevil problems, but we had some aphids. However, the predators did a good job of taking care of those, and those who did spray probably wasted their money,” says Paul Hay, Extension educator.

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