According to the May 1 survey of hay stocks, Wisconsin was among many states with record low supplies for the date.
Other states that have a significant number of cattle and record low hay stocks include Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois, New York, Ohio, and Vermont.
According to the report by the Wisconsin field office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service, hay stocks on the state's farm totaled 410,000 tons - down 55.7 percent from the 925,000 tons a year earlier and 63 percent from the 1.122 million tons on hand on May 1 of 2011.
Other reported percentage declines from a year ago and the May 1 on-hand tonnage were 45.6 percent and 490,000 tons in Minnesota, 48.3 percent and 155,000 tons in Illinois, 42 percent and 290,000 tons in Iowa, 43 percent and 610,000 tons in Nebraska, 64.6 percent and 850,000 tons in South Dakota, and 41.5 percent and 600,000 tons in Missouri.
For the United States as a whole, the May 1 total of hay stocks was 14.2 million tons. This was down by 34 percent from a year earlier and is the lowest total for a May 1 since those statistics were first compiled.
The extreme drop in hay stocks was due mainly to the drought during much of the growing season in 2012. The report also noted that the cold and wet spring delayed the growth of new pasture, thereby putting additional dependence and strain on remaining hay stocks.
Prospects for replenishing the haystocks with production in 2013 are not promising. That's due in part to the widespread reports of winterkill of alfalfa in Wisconsin, southern Minnesota, and some other areas.
As a result, many farmers around east central Wisconsin have had a herbicide applied to their most severely affected alfalfa fields in order to kill the stand and prepare the fields for another crop this year.
With the alfalfa that survived having reached plant heights of 15 inches as far north as Outagamie County by early this week, several county Extension Service offices and their cooperating crop consultants will soon be issuing their analyses on the growth progress, feed quality, and recommended harvest dates on this year's first crop.