Two years of severe-to-exceptional drought conditions have depleted U.S. hay stocks. USDA’s most recent hay stocks report showed 71.9 million tons in reserves, 16.4% below the previous ten-year average and the lowest December 1 stocks on record dating back to 1973. The top ten hay-producing states were down 20.8% from the 2012-2021 average December 1 stocks. But Texas saw the most significant decline at 25.8% below the ten-year average.

Alfalfa and other hay production numbers show that alfalfa hay tends to be more critical in the northern half of the U.S., while other hay production is more important in the central and southern plains. Decreased December 1 hay stocks mean the cattle industry could face more liquidation pains this winter after the December winter storm already took a chunk out of the December 1 hay stocks report.

With forage production still months away in most of the country, the remaining winter months will be a challenging one for U.S. cattle producers.

Read more on record-low hay stocks here.