Horse-hay prices in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area have remained strong in the past two years. This year, though, a drop in fertilizer and possibly land costs could take the steam out of the market, says grower Andrew “Butch” Cardinal, Hugo, MN.

“Fertilizer prices are the big thing,” he says. “They’ve been softening some in recent months, and that should help us hold the line a little on the hay price.”

Cardinal and his brother, Jim, own Cardinal Brothers Hay Sales and put up alfalfa-orchardgrass hay on 450 acres in a typical year. Horse owners within a 100-mile radius of their farm are the primary market for the 60- to 65-lb small square bales they produce. They also make large round bales for beef feedlots in their area.

Cardinal wouldn’t be surprised to see land rental rates decline in the year ahead. “It’s been tough competing with corn and soybeans on rental ground the past couple of years,” he says. “But now prices for those crops have been coming down. Our local fertilizer dealer told me his company was selling an awful lot of alfalfa seed last fall.”

Demand for good horse hay, which has been selling for $7-12/bale at local auctions in recent weeks, remains solid, reports Cardinal. “The supply in our area is pretty tight because of the weather problems we had early on in the growing season last year. In our case, we’ll be able to squeak by and supply our regular customers through the winter. But we’re not looking to take on a lot of new customers right now.”

To contact the Cardinals, call 612-325-2749 or email cardinalbros@msn.com.

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