Columbia Basin

The majority of the Columbia Basin Hay Growers Association (CBHGA) members are from Benton, Franklin and Walla Walla counties. These three counties represent 30.5% of all alfalfa production and 24.2% of all hay produced in the state of Washington. Benton, Franklin, Adams and Grant counties account for 67% of the alfalfa production and 53% of all hay produced in the state. It is obvious that alfalfa is the primary forage grown by members of the CBHGA with some timothy and other grass forages making up the difference. Forages are grown almost entirely on irrigated land and with the average of frost free days of 153 days for Northern part of Franklin county and 184 for the Southern part, production can reach as high as 10 tons per acre for some areas resulting in an average of 7 tons per acre for the county.

The primary mission of the CBHGA is to provide avenues for communication and education of forage producers, scientists, educators and industry representatives to share and obtain information that could help in producing forages in a profitable manner through economically and environmentally friendly agricultural practices. The avenues include co-sponsoring an annual hay meeting that occurs in Basin City each year in December, a Hay King Contest at the Benton Franklin Fair and Rodeo in August, and a forage field day in March or April. In addition, as a chapter of the Washington State Hay Growers Association (WSHGA), the CBHGA supports and participates in a WSHGA annual convention in January and provides members that are active on the WSHGA board of directors. Many of the educational opportunities include pest identification and control, irrigation practices, pros and cons of biotechnology, new farm tool practices and uses, potential toxicants in hay, hay production and export information, hay market and dairy outlooks, product development, product performance as well as other pertinent topics.