Cattle graze in a field outside of North English, Iowa, Sept. 13, 2017. USDA Photo by Preston KeresThe state of pastures and rangeland in the western U.S. is starkly different from what is typical this time of year. The green growth has been stifled due to dry conditions and severe windstorms. Without moisture very soon, the already-limited greening will stop. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, the U.S. is in the worst condition of any May in at least 35 years, with over 63% of the country classified as abnormally dry or in extreme to exceptional drought (D3).

May 1 hay stocks were 15.1% below the ten-year average of 2012-2021. Hay prices are forecast to reach record levels this year. Alfalfa is projected to average $245/ton and other hay prices are projected at $155/ton for the 2022/2023 hay crop year. The drought and hay prices are compounded by already record-high fertilizer and fuel prices, adding to the extraordinary challenges the cattle industry is facing this summer.

Read more on drought and forage conditions here.