According to the July 31 U.S. Drought Monitor, 81 percent of Arkansas is in an extreme drought and 44 percent is in an exceptional drought. In these areas up to 75 percent of the grass in pastures is considered severely impacted and may not recover. Livestock watering ponds are dry or so stagnant they are dangerous for the health of the herd. Eighty-three percent of pastures in the state are rated as poor or very poor by the National Agricultural Statistic Service.

An opportunity exists for crop farmers to come to the aid of our cattlemen here in Arkansas by agreeing to bale row crops into hay bales to be feed to cattle. Farmers should consider this economic opportunity if they are willing to maintain their milo stands after they have harvested the grain and allow the crop to reestablish itself.

There may also be dryland soybean fields that have been too severely affected by the drought that could be baled for hay.

There also may be some opportunity for farmers to plant temporary forages such as millet or sorghum-sudan grass and harvest and bale it for hay.

Depending on what types of pesticides were used, other crops such as peanut vines and field corn could be could be baled for hay. Farmers must be mindful of any chemical restrictions before baling any crop as feed for livestock.

Farmers who do not own haying equipment should consider allowing commercial hay vendors or cattle farmers to come and bale the crops on their farms. Farmers who do not own equipment to load and transport hay bales should consider commercial hay vendors, cattle farmers, or commercial trucking operations as an alternative to transport hay off their farms.

Farmers can use the Arkansas Hay Producers Directory (http://hayproducers.uaex.edu/) to connect with cattlemen who are looking for affordable sources of hay. The web-based directory from the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service was created to allow Arkansas producers to share information about their available hay.

For more information please contact Debbie Moreland at (501) 425-2891 or email debbie.moreland@arkansas.gov.