Sufficient rainfall in much of the country will result in slightly higher average alfalfa yields than harvested last year, USDA predicts. But the yield gain won’t offset a 4% drop in acreage.

In its Aug. 12 “Crop Production” report, USDA forecasts production of alfalfa and alfalfa mixtures at 70.9 million tons, 2% below last year’s number. Yields from 20.8 million harvested acres are expected to average 3.41 tons/acre, up from 3.35 tons/acre in 2007. Yields are forecast to be above last year’s number across the Corn Belt, Ohio Valley and Tennessee Valley, but slightly lower in California, Nevada, Utah and Colorado. Slight yield increases are anticipated in Oregon, Idaho and Wyoming.

Production of all other types of hay is forecast at 77 million tons, 1% below last year’s final figure, and the expected harvested acreage, at 39.7 million, is also down 1%. Based on Aug. 1 conditions, yield is expected to average 1.94 tons/acre, down slightly from last year’s yield. Moisture deficiencies will reduce the average Texas yield by 1.2 tons/acre, according to USDA, but yields are within 1 ton of last year’s figure in all other states.