June Rain Deals a Heavy Blow to Local Hay Harvest - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

June Rain Deals a Heavy Blow to Local Hay Harvest

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ELLENSBURG, Wash.-- For most of us a week's worth of rain is merely an inconvenience, but for some local growers it could mean financial disaster.
NBC Right Now found out just how much there is to lose when it comes to rain and hay.
"In terms of weather during harvest this has been the worst harvest in many, many, many years and the impact is going to be in the millions and millions of dollars across the state," said Don Schilling, President of Wesco International.
Schilling said this year's heavy rain came at the most inopportune time, right during the first cutting.
Local growers said hay should look bright green, but instead it's more of a yellowish color and the nutrient value is slightly less.
"If it shows too much bleach, too much yellow color, they're {the customer} not interested in it because it doesn't look good," said Schilling.
"We'll all be scrambling for the nice pretty green hay, which it will be very short and of course that drives the price up," said Becky McDowell, Co-Owner of Old Mill Country Store in Ellensburg.
Local merchants said prices are slightly up for consumers, but the people who take the brunt of the hit are farmers. A ton of hay that should be worth $300 may now only bring in $250 or even $200. This could cost the average farmer tens of thousands of dollars.
"When 50 percent of your hay is rained on, or 60 or 70 percent of your hay is rained on, there's no way that 10, 20 or 30 percent that didn't get rained on is going to make up for it," said Schilling.
"Their main concern is just the sympathy with the farmers that they've lost their crop again this year," said McDowell.
Farmers said they can only hope to recoup some of their losses in future cuttings of Alfalfa Hay, but for Timothy Hay, farmers said there's no second chance. They'll have to wait until next year to make up for this year's financial loss.