The business of hay in Alaska has been an interesting one since the beginning, as we struggle with short seasons, vastly different growing zones, and soil across the state. However, we can grow it, and knowing what kinds and its habits can help you grow some to help your farm. As it is, Alaska is one of the smallest hay producers in the United States and is almost always in a supply shortage when needing it to feed our animals. Annually we produce about 20,000 acres of hay each year which is priced at about $430 per Ton, which is valued to be $8,600,000 in production for our state each year. This hay is mostly used to feed horses, then other grazing animals that are here in the state. Delta is the state’s top hay-growing region, followed by the Matanuska Valley and the Kenai Peninsula, with additional fields in the Kenny Lake area and on Kodiak Island.
Types of Hay
The two main types of hay that are grown here in Alaska tend to be Brome and Timothy. These tend to be grown as a mix for many as they each do well with different types of seasons, and predicting that the recent years of “crazy” summer weather has given some predictable growth for the farmers. Engmo Timothy and Climax Timothy are two varieties that have been reported to grow well in areas in the southern peninsula. Now, when planning on the harvest of hay across the state, there is an expected single cutting, but depending on your area and how the weather lucks out, you might manage a second cutting or more. Brome is an excellent hay for Alaska as it overwinters so well and has a growth cycle that fits our shorter growing season. Meadow Foxtail can also be an option for growing for those with horses but does tend to be more expensive than Timothy. For most hay farmers, trial and error, along with good luck, really play out to the success of hay but utilizing these features in their hay help ensure some sort of crop is harvested.