Extremely tight supplies are keeping prices for dairy-quality alfalfa hay at relatively high levels in Michigan. The good news for buyers is that prices aren’t as high as they were last year.

Growers from around the state report that dairy-quality hay brings $240-250/ton before delivery charges are factored in, says Phil Kaatz, area forage and field crops educator with Michigan State University (MSU) Extension. “At the very top of the market last year, we saw prices well over $300/ton.” Prices for good-quality alfalfa and alfalfa-grass hay have tapered off by a similar percentage from last year’s top, Kaatz reports. Current price is around $160-175/ton, with reports of some sales near $200/ton.

Where prices might head over the next several months is “anybody’s guess,” he says. Many growers around the state seemed to be selling more hay out of the field than normal last summer.

“(Buyers) were a little gun shy after what happened in 2012. They didn’t want to get caught short on supplies again this year. As a result, there may not be as much demand for hay as there usually is when we get to the end of the hay-buying season.”

But the odds are just as good that prices could stay at current levels or even bump up slightly, especially for the best dairy hay, in the months ahead. “There always seems to be some upside price pressure as we move through the winter,” says Kaatz. “With high-quality hay supplies as low as they are, that could very well be the case this year.”

Hay buyers and sellers should check out MSU’s Michigan Hay Sellers List, he suggests. Potential buyers can search for hay and bale type, cutting, region of the state and price. Sellers also have the option of listing hay test information and noting whether the hay was organically grown.

To contact Kaatz, call 810-667-0341 or email kaatz@msu.edu.

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