Rainy weather in September and October hindered many Idaho alfalfa growers as they put up their last cuttings of the season, reports grower Will Ricks.

“We had about six or seven weeks there where we’d get two days of nice weather, then get some rain,” says Ricks, owner of RIC Farms LLC, near Monteview. “That made it really tough to put up hay.”

President of the Idaho Hay and Forage Association, Ricks makes alfalfa hay in 3 x 4 x 8’ bales on 1,500 irrigated acres. He also grows 1,000 acres of wheat and timothy. Dairies in south-central Idaho are his primary market.

The late-season wet spell led to harvests of lower-quality hay in many parts of the state. “Ordinarily at this time of year, you have a pretty good idea of where prices are going,” he says. “This year, though, there’s just so much of that feeder hay out there to be had. If we get a hard winter, prices could hang in there or maybe even improve a bit. But if we have a light winter, the large supply could drag things down.”

According to the Oct. 25 Idaho Weekly Hay Report from USDA Market News, supreme-quality alfalfa in the state is selling for $200-220/ton. Premium alfalfa is bringing $180-200/ton. “The milk price is up a little bit, so some of the dairies are trying to get some hay bought up right now,” says Ricks. “With the supply likely to be a little tight … that’s probably a smart move rather than waiting until next March to buy.”

To contact Ricks, call 208-390-5012 or email w.ricks@yahoo.com.

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