Palmer, AK — Many valley farmers are reaping the benefits of warmer-than-usual summer weather, but hay farmers say their harvests are small this season.
Gerald DeVilbiss, with Windy River Farm, says his first hay cutting yielded half of what he harvested last year. His father's hay harvest was about one quarter of what he usually cuts. DeVilbiss says the hot and dry conditions have contributed to smaller yields, but a late and chilly spring was also a challenge.
"It has hurt other people a lot more than its hurt us, the hot and dry. We were more affected by the ice and the freezing through the winter," he says.
His neighbor harvested about one-quarter of his normal yields and says the warm weather has hurt his hay crops. He says the season has been discouraging. DeVilbiss says his family of farmers has weathered a lot in the past and they are trying to stay optimistic. Their second cutting of hay is expected to begin in early August. He is hoping for an above-average crop.
Alaska hay farmers predict there will be a higher demand for local hay this fall and next spring, due to smaller hay harvests this summer. According to DeVilbiss, more hay may have to be imported. While some farmers may raise their prices, he says his family's prices are already set for the year.
"It had its discouraging moments at times but I'm encouraged looking at the crop that's coming in for second cutting," says DeVilbiss. "I think we'll see a big rebound in the yield and just pray for good weather when that time comes."