Expect a “very dull” winter hay-marketing season in Michigan, says Jerry Lindquist, hay-marketing specialist with Michigan State University Extension. “It’s not because of the prices, which are at historical highs, but because there is so little hay left.”

About 85% of Michigan’s available hay supply for 2012 may have already been sold, estimates Lindquist after looking at the Michigan Hay Sellers List. “There is still some hay available from time to time, but in my 21 years of operating the list, this is the smallest amount of hay that we have ever offered.”

Several unknowns could still lead the marketing specialist to adjust his estimate one way or the other. “A few cash-crop farms wanted to get done harvesting corn before they offered their hay crops for sale, and there are always a few farms that like to wait until the new tax year to sell.”

Prices range from $265 to $535/ton ($6 to $12/bale) for small square bales weighing 45 lbs each and $140 to $300/ton ($60 to $130/bale) for large round bales weighing 875 lbs, on average, Lindquist reports. The price range for large square bales, at 725 lbs each, has been from $180 to $400/ton ($65 to $140/bale).

“The price ranges are large only because some sellers are reluctant to charge regular customers extremely high prices,” says Lindquist.

Higher-quality hay is selling for a premium this year. “However, because of the very short supply, the low-quality, first-cutting grass hays are not being discounted much below the higher-quality hays. If it is free of dust and mold, it has been selling for prices that indicate little concern for its feed quality.”

For more on hay marketing and supplies, contact Lundquist at 231-832-6139 or lindquis@anr.msu.edu.