Just as farmers in Wisconsin are getting a glimpse of how their alfalfa and other hay crops are faring for a new harvest year, the state's field office of the National Agricultural Statistical Service has released the 2012 production reports for individual counties.
The per acre dry matter yields reported from farmer surveys validated the effects of the 2012 drought on the year's dry hay production. Most counties had average yields well below trendline numbers.
The state's average yield of 2.3 dry matter tons per acre for dry alfalfa hay was well below the 2.8 and 2.9 ton averages for 2011 and 2010, respectively.
Among the state's counties for 2012, Calumet County stood at the top of the list for yield on dry alfalfa hay with an average of 3.4 dry matter tons per acre on 13,000 harvested acres.
Following were neighboring Manitowoc County with an average of 3.4 tons from 23,500 harvested acres, Pierce County in west central Wisconsin with a 3.2 ton average from 20,100 acres, and Sheboygan County in east central Wisconsin with an average of 3 dry matter tons on 15,000 harvested acres.
Except for the state's central statistical district, all of the nine districts had average yields of at least 2 dry matter tons per acre in 2012.
The total alfalfa hay production was calculated as 2.415 million dry matter tons from 1.05 million harvested acres.
An accompanying report indicated the dry hay harvested from legume and grass species other than alfalfa.
There were approximately 400,000 such harvested acres in the state during 2012 with an average yield of 1.5 dry matter tons per acre for a total production of 600,000 tons.
About 70 percent of those acres were in the north central, northwest, central, west central districts.
Among the 19 counties for which individual production statistics were published, Ozaukee County had the highest average yield in 2012 with 2.5 dry matter tons on 1,480 harvested acres while Langlade County had an average yield of 2.2 tons on 3,510 acres.
Sixteen of the counties had average yields of less than 2 dry matter tons per acre.