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Some Wyoming hay quality takes a dive from late summer rain 

A truck is loaded down with grass hay in a freshly cut field.
Caitlin Tan
Wyoming Public Media

It’s been an unusually rainy summer for much of Wyoming, creating some challenges in the agriculture world.

A lot of the rain came in late summer, which is right in the middle of haying season for ranchers and farmers.

“It was really tough for them to get it up without it getting rained on. Most of the state, it got rained on,” said Brett Moline of the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation. “So the quantity probably isn't going to be too bad, but the quality is definitely going to be down.”

The quality might be down because wet hay often means moldy hay.

“If that hay is not pretty dry when you bale it, it's just gonna mold in the bale,” Moline said. “And then you got a pretty inferior product.”

Livestock can sometimes still eat that hay, but not horses, making it harder on their owners.

“Typical horse quality hay is going to be a little bit tougher for them to find,” he said. “Horses are just a little bit more sensitive than cattle.”

Moline said overall, prices have come down slightly since last year at about $220/ton for grassy hay, down from an average of $250/ton last year. This in part because of the wet spring that seemed promising for the growing season. But, Moline said prices aren’t down a lot because of the costs to produce hay for ranchers and farmers.

“Their input costs aren't going down. Diesel fuel is higher. Fertilizer – it’s not any lower than it was last year,” he said. “So their breakeven price hasn't come down.”

Moline said a big determining factor of how this hay season closes out is the fall weather. The first two cuttings this summer were both delayed because of the rain, further delaying the third cutting.

“As late as we’re getting, are some of these guys gonna get a third cutting? A lot of times that's the moneymaker. If we have an early wet fall, that third cutting probably isn’t going to be worth a tinker's dang, if they can even get it.”

The Farmers’ Almanac is predicting some early season rain and snowfall for the state.

Caitlin Tan is the Energy and Natural Resources reporter based in Sublette County, Wyoming. Since graduating from the University of Wyoming in 2017, she’s reported on salmon in Alaska, folkways in Appalachia and helped produce 'All Things Considered' in Washington D.C. She formerly co-hosted the podcast ‘Inside Appalachia.' You can typically find her outside in the mountains with her two dogs.
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