Florida hay grower Mark Randell had no problem moving hay this winter, and he expects more of the same in the year ahead. “We have a little hay left for our walk-up customers,” says Randell. “Other than that, we have nothing to sell. A lot of other growers around here are also sold out.”

Randell grows Coastal bermudagrass hay on 350 acres near Wellborn. Most of his hay is packaged in net-wrapped round bales. Individual horse owners, feed stores and brokers serving the horse-owner market are his primary clientele, but he also sells a small share of his annual production to dairy and beef operations in northern Florida. He buys and resells hay as well.

Strong demand, both locally and from drought-stricken Texas, pushed prices up during the winter months, says Randell. Currently, round bales weighing 650-700 lbs bring an average $50/roll, with a range of $40-65/roll. A year ago, the price was $38-40/roll.

A fair amount of hay ground in his area was converted to peanuts, corn and cotton last year, he notes. More acres could come out in 2012.

He also expects that a certain quantity of Florida hay will continue moving toward Texas. “From what I’ve been hearing, a lot of the grass stands in Texas need to be replanted. It’s going to take some time to get them back into production.” (See "Texas Forage Growers Face Uphill Climb.")

To contact Randell, call 386-208-2758 or email mrandell@windstream.net.