The supply difference between low-quality grass hay and high-quality alfalfa will lead to wide price spreads between the two types of hay in Michigan and neighboring states again this year, predicts Jerry Lindquist, Michigan State University Extension educator.

“With some supply carryover from the 2010 hay crop in Michigan and with abundant rain during the first cutting harvest season, there is still plenty of low-quality, sometimes rained on, overmature hay available in the Great Lakes Region,” says Lindquist. “There is still the chance that the rest of the summer could turn dry and lower the remaining harvests, but since the first cuttings usually amount to over 65% of the total summer’s harvest, it is unlikely it will change too much at this point.”

The supply of dairy-quality hay is much lower, he reports. Many dairy farmers were able to harvest haylage in June, but the amount of high-quality, dry baled hay for sale is in short supply so far.

“There is the hope that the abundant soil moisture will provide a good second cutting and possibly a third cutting that could put some quality baled hay on the market,” says Lindquist. “However, some areas of Michigan are already starting to turn dry, which will lower these later-cutting yields.”

Due to higher prices for fuel, machinery and fertilizer, haymaking costs have edged 5-8% above 2010 levels to an estimated $90-110/ton, he says.

The market price for low-quality round-baled hay remains soft; in some locations below the cost of production. Hay with relative feed values (RFV) below 100 ranges from $65 to $90/ton. Alfalfa-grass round baled hay over 100 RFV is selling in the $80-105 range. These hay types, when packaged in small or large square bales, sell for $10-30/ton more.

Better-quality alfalfa-grass hay between 125 and 140 RFV is selling for $105-135/ton with no rain, and premium-quality alfalfa dairy hay over 150 RFV with no or little rain is going for $140-200/ton mainly in square bales, says Lindquist.

Anyone who has hay for sale, wants to buy hay or just wants to check on current hay asking prices can go to the Michigan Hay Seller List. The free listing is sponsored by the Michigan Forage Council and Michigan State University Extension and carries a constant list of producers with hay for sale in Michigan. For more information, contact Lindquist at 231-832-6139 or lindquis@anr.msu.edu, or Phil Kaatz at 810-667-0341 or kaatz@anr.msu.edu.