Hermiston area farmers are champing at the bit as an exceptionally cool spring shows little sign of warming up. The weather trend is impacting a number of crops, including hay in the Pacific Northwest and California.

“We’re probably 10 days to two weeks behind,” said Tim Tallman, agronomist for Fredrickson Farms in Boardman. “Production is going to be down a significant amount.”

According to Tallman, if the weather doesn’t let up soon, it could mean fewer cuttings this year, affecting next winter’s supply. Right now hay producers are just trying to keep pace with demand.

“Most of the 2010 crop is gone or will be gone before we have the first crop of 2011,” Tallman said.

According to an Oregon Department of Agriculture press release, the low temperatures in April have agriculture producers across the board frustrated.

“We’ve had just a handful of days in April above 60 degrees,” Jim Cramer, administrator of the Commodity Inspection Division for ODA said in a press release.

According to the ODA, the average April high temperature is historically 60.5 degrees. For 2011, the average high has been 54.9 degrees.

“A lot of our producers have been itching to get out there and work in the field or the orchard, but it appears most everyone is behind schedule,” Cramer said. “It has been too wet as far as planting crops, and too cold as far as pushing the bloom goes.”

The cool weather isn’t all bad, however, according to Tallman, who said as long as there is no rain, cool weather can improve the quality of hay crops. That won’t help livestock operators facing feed shortages, however, as the price of hay continues to rise.

“I think it’s going to be above $200 a ton,” Tallman said.

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