Hay prices remain under upside pressure in parts of Arkansas in the aftermath of last year’s drought.

“Hay in northern Arkansas is very expensive due to very low supply,” says John Jennings, Extension forage specialist with the University of Arkansas. “The drought greatly reduced yield and there is no carryover from previous years.”

The only readily available hay in surrounding states is in parts of East Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, according to Jennings. “The hay crop in Kansas, Missouri and Illinois is very short, so shipping from producers who used to be considered close is nil. Shipping from the Southern states adds about $30-35 per (round) bale to the price for trucking.

“Most calls I got this year from those areas had hay priced at $40-45 per bale there. Add $35, and that becomes $75-80 when it gets here. If a hay broker is in the mix, they want a cut too, so that adds to the price.”

Fire ants have been an additional complicating factor. Many parts of Arkansas and the South are under fire-ant quarantines, meaning hay has to be inspected to ensure that it will not bring fire ants to ant-free counties.

“Some brokers shipping in hay are asking a higher price for inspected, ‘ant-free’ hay compared to other hay,” he says.

As of late last week, county agents in northern Arkansas were reporting these prices:

  • Carroll County has mixed-grass round bales priced at $65-75 each, with bermudagrass round bales averaging $85-90 each.
  • Baxter County reported that mixed-grass round bales were selling at $65-70.
  • Washington County reported $60/round bale.

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