Nebraska hay growers have faced a frustrating production year, reports Barb Kinnan, executive director, Nebraska Alfalfa Marketing Association (N.A.M.A.). The April freeze resulted in the loss of an entire cutting. The panhandle region in western Nebraska continues to suffer from extreme drought, and untimely rains and high humidity caused problems in the other two-thirds of the state. An increase in corn production caused a decrease in the state's hay acres.
Dairy hay is getting harder to find and prices are going up. "The dairyman who procrastinates in lining up his hay needs could find himself in a very serious situation," Kinnan says. "We are making some hay right now, so there is still a chance to get some dairy-quality hay, but there won't be much available." In spite of the scarce supplies, some hay is still moving. Kinnan says a fair amount of below-dairy-quality hay has been selling to Kentucky buyers.
Visit the N.A.M.A. Web site at www.nebraska-alfalfa.com, or contact Kinnan at 800-743-1649.
Wyoming's hay market situation is anybody's guess at this point, says Scott Keith, livestock and forage program manager with the Wyoming Business Council. "I'm hearing mixed signals," Keith said while answering price questions from World Dairy Expo attendees in Madison last week. "A lot of people raising good-quality dairy hay are saying it's going to Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado dairies and selling as fast as they can put it up. I'm also hearing that people are holding hay, are going to wait until the first of the year to sell it and think the price is going to be higher.
"It's really hard to say where that market price is going to settle until November," he added.
Keith said some producers are paying attention to quality and what the market is doing, so they know what hay is worth. "And then there are other hay producers who put up hay and hope to sell." He urges growers to have their hay analyzed so they know its quality. Then price the hay based on that quality.