Thirty years ago, a custom harvester was inspired to create an organization to act as the voice for the men and women who travel the country harvesting grain crops for growers. The idea became a reality April 8, 1983 with the first organized gathering of more than 150 harvesters in Canyon, Texas. This meeting was the beginning of what is now known as U.S. Custom Harvesters, Inc.
At just under 119 million tons, the 2011 U.S. hay crop is forecast by USDA to be the shortest since the drought year of 1988. Yields are down from 2010, but by less than 6%; it's kind of like the man with one foot in boiling water and the other in a bucket of ice - while the Southeast Plains crop has been devastated by what Texas State Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon calls the "most severe one-year drought on record," there's a lot of hay in places where it's typically harder to grow. The problem is getting it where it's needed.