By CAROL RYAN DUMAS

Capital Press

Producers in Idaho harvested 11,000 acres of alfalfa seed in 2009, down 8 percent from the 2008 crop, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Last year's drop follows a 20 percent decline in 2008.

Average yield, on a clean basis, was 740 pounds per harvested acre in 2009, up 4 percent from the previous year. Production totaled 8.14 million pounds, 4 percent below the 2008 crop. The average price received by growers increased $7 per hundredweight from the previous year to $207 cwt., resulting in a farm-level value of $16.9 million.

The NASS survey of growers was done in cooperation with the Idaho Alfalfa and Clover Seed Commission, said Vince Matthews, director of the NASS Idaho field office. USDA only tallies national numbers on alfalfa seed acreage in its 5-year Census of Agriculture, and individual states conduct surveys based on funding.

Nationwide, alfalfa seed production was reported as 62.12 million pounds in the 2007 Census, up about 4 million pounds from 2002.

Western Alfalfa Seed Growers represents producers in Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Montana, Colorado, Nevada, Wyoming and California.

Johnson expects regional production in 2009 will end up about the same as 2008, with increased production in California but some declines in most of the other Western states.

Results of the Idaho survey, released last week, also show harvested acreage of red clover seed in Idaho totaled 1,000 acres, up 300 acres from 2008. Average clean yield was 550 pounds per acre, unchanged from the previous year. Production totaled 550,000 pounds, up 43 percent from 2008. The average price received by growers was $191 per hundredweight, up $4 per hundredweight from 2008, resulting in a farm-level value of $1.05 million.

Certified alfalfa seed production

Million pounds

State 2000 2008 2009

California N/A (13.02 in 2001)15.22 19.377

Washington 13.50 12.73 11.02*

Idaho 17.94 8.26 8.14

Nevada 11.09 2.03 2.32

Montana 5.18 3.41 3.26

Oregon 5.03 2.58 NA

Wyoming 6.36 5.41 4.80

Colorado 0.87 NA NA

* estimate

Western States total

Million pounds

2007 2008 2009

58.63 47.05 48.06*

* estimate

Source: Western Alfalfa Seed Growers Association, NASS, state agencies, grower surveys

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