Colorado
Hay supplies are tight in Colorado, reports Randy Hammerstrom, market reporter with the USDA-Colorado Department of Agriculture Market News in Greeley. “There is hay to be found out there, but it’s in tight supply, and as we get closer to May and first cutting, people might be short of hay if they didn’t plan far enough ahead. And we might see more firmness in these prices,” he says. “It has been a crazy past year.”

When Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma suffered from drought at the end of 2005, hay buyers from those areas put a good dent in carryover hay supplies in Colorado and surrounding states. Then severe winterkill hit alfalfa in Colorado’s San Luis Valley. A January 2006 warm-up brought it out of dormancy early, then cold snaps followed in February and March. “There was a mad scramble trying to figure out what to do with that ground, and a lot of the winterkilled acres were put into oat hay,” Hammerstrom reports. The San Luis Valley also had a cowpea aphid problem last summer. Hay from that south-central area typically supplies dairies in Colorado, Texas and New Mexico.

“Later in 2006, around 400 irrigation wells were shut down in northeastern Colorado along the South Platte River,” he continues. “We had fairly good moisture until mid-June, then we hardly got a drop of rain all summer. Southern Colorado was dry. All those reasons together really pushed up hay prices all the way into Kansas, Wyoming and Nebraska.”

Conditions are getting better in southeastern Colorado following consecutive blizzards that took a toll on cattle herds. “I have yet to hear how many cattle were killed in the southeastern corner of the state,” Hammerstrom says. “However, with 4’ of snow in some areas, it’s kind of a blessing in disguise because when the snow melts they will have some good moisture in the area. Southeastern Colorado has been in a drought for the past few years.”

Contact Hammerstrom at 970-353-9750. His most recent hay report can be read at www.ams.usda.gov/mnreports/GL_GR310.txt.

Upper Midwest
Nebraska hay prices were steady as of last week, according to the Upper Midwestern Weekly Hay Market Demand and Price Report compiled by the University of Wisconsin. Inquiry and demand were very good on a very limited supply and trading was active. Iowa hay prices were mixed to higher than what they had been. Inquiry was up, especially for new-crop hay, and demand was very good with active trading reported. South Dakota hay prices were mixed to higher than during the previous week. Demand continued to be very good. There were record-breaking cold temperatures with high wind in the state last week.

Missouri reported steady hay prices and good demand. The supply was light and temperatures were generally much below normal. Forage needs were about as high as they can get for Missouri cattle, and farmers continued to spend considerable time trying to locate more hay to buy. Truckers were staying very busy and logging lots of miles trying to fill orders. Southwestern Minnesota hay prices were mixed to slightly lower than in previous weeks. Sales activity was moderate.

Prime small square bales at greater than 151 relative feed value/relative forage quality (RFV/RFQ) sold for an average price of $138.62/ton in the Upper Midwest. Large square bales of prime hay averaged $129.92/ton; round bales, $97.12/ton.

Grade 1 hay, between 125 and 150 RFV/RFQ, sold for $102.50/ton in small square bales. Large square bales averaged $75.63/ton; round bales, $61.97/ton.

Grade 2 hay, between 103 and 124 RFV/RFQ, averaged $80/ton for small square bales, $49.17/ton for large square bales and $76.25/ton for round bales.

Straw prices in the Midwest averaged $2.70 per small square bale, $21.59 per large square bale, and $21.72 per round bale.

Source: Ken Barnett, University of Wisconsin. View these prices online at www.uwex.edu/ces/forage/pubs/hay_market_report.htm.