Farmers optimistic about summer hay

By Lisa Burnett Originally Published June 23, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated June 21, 2013 at 11:38 a.m.
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Nick Hillemann

While last summer was a bad time for farmers, things are looking better this year. The blistering temperatures in 2012 wreaked havoc on hay production, but many farmers in the Three Rivers Edition coverage area hope for a more promising hay crop this time around.

After a blistering, dry summer last year, cattle farmers in the Three Rivers Edition coverage area are looking forward to a successful summer, with a more promising hay crop.

Carson Horn, director of communications for the Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association, said that last summer was terrible for the state’s farmers.

“The farmers seem very optimistic this year,” Horn said. “People have been out in the fields getting hay together already.”

Marcus Creasy of Heber Springs kept the positive tone going, saying this summer is looking much improved over last year.

“In numbers, we’re a lot better off,” Creasy said. “It’s definitely a lot better. At my farm, we were able to cut hay about a month earlier.”

Creasy said the quality and amount of hay he has been able to bale has significantly exceeded last year’s.

“I feel like most of the state is that way,” Creasy said.

Last summer, Creasy said, he was lucky enough to not have to go out of state to buy hay, adding that the price of out-of-state hay was high.

“If farmers had to have it shipped in, it was upward of $125 a bale, and they were coming from as far out as Mississippi,” Creasy said of the big round bales.

Don Hubbell, a farmer in Batesville, said he is making at least three to four times as much hay per field as he did last summer.

“May 23 of last year, I made 19 bales out of one field, and I cut the same field the other day, and it made 103 bales,” Hubbell said.

Not coincidentally, Hubbell said, he’s seen a decrease in hay prices this summer.

“About the cheapest hay [last summer] was $60 to $85 per bale,” Hubbell said.

The weather plays a significant role in how much hay is baled each year, Hubbell said.

“Right now, we’ve been getting a lot of rainfall, and we’re in really good shape moisturewise,” Hubbell said. “We’re probably in pretty good shape for the next 30 to 45 days. It just depends on how hot it gets.”

Joe Giroir of Quitman said there is no comparing this summer to last summer.

“It was the worst we’ve seen since the early ’80s,” Giroir said of 2012. “We just weren’t able to cut hay because of the drought.”

Rodney Hicks, manager of the Farmers’ Association, a farm supply store in Cabot, said he’s seeing more people buy hay-baling supplies this summer.

“As far as selling baler twine and supplies, there’s been a pretty good turnout for that,” Hicks said.

Last year’s dry weather caused burn bans, and nothing was growing anywhere, Hicks said.

“[Farmers] are baling more hay per acre than they have in a long time, just because of the wetter spring,” Hicks said.

Staff writer Lisa Burnett can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or lburnett@arkansasonline.com.

Online Reporter Lisa Burnett can be reached at 501-378-3887 or lburnett@arkansasonline.com.

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