Hay Harvest Better This Year - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Hay Harvest Better This Year

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BELGRADE -

Hay farmers are beginning to harvest the first cut of the season, so we asked the experts how the drought has affected this year's crop.

Montana State University Animal Operations manager, Bob Brekke doesn't think this year's crop is what it used to be. He blames a lack of snow during the winter.

"Because of our snow pack at the lower levels are not like they have been, the depth of the soil moister isn't as deep as we would like it," said Brekke.

Lance Chaney said he was concerned earlier this year, but the recent rain saved the crop.

"Until we got that three inches of rain that we got, it was really short," said Chaney, Gallatin County farmer. "I was really worried."

One way to tell if this year was a good year for hay growers is by looking at the hay market.

"The better the crop, the lower the price is going to be," said Chaney. "And right now you are looking at prices that are just a little under what they were last year. That tells me that people have just a little more hay than they did last year. 

Chaney said he's seeing hay going for around $150 to $170 per ton. He also said problems in other states affect the prices here in Montana.

Last year people from Idaho came to Montana to buy their hay, driving up the price for Montanans.

"At the end of the season we were seeing $250 for a ton of hay," said Chaney. "It used to be 120 was a high price on hay. So it's hurting a lot of local people."

Brekke said ranchers could see lower production costs because of the lower cost of hay.
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