Hay grower Jamey Styles won’t be setting prices for his crop until the 2012 growing season is well under way. Even so, he says, it’s highly unlikely that prices will be dropping in the year ahead. “A lot will depend on what happens with the weather, of course,” says Styles, of Coal Hill, AR. “But I can’t see any kind of surplus developing. There just isn’t any carryover to speak of.”

Styles puts up bermudagrass hay in 3 x 3 x 8’ and small square bales on 1,000 acres. He markets about 75% of his annual production to horse owners in Arkansas, Texas and surrounding states. The remaining production goes to beef backgrounders and dairy producers.

Styles increased prices on his large bales by $10/bale in 2011. “A lot of that was because it was so dry here and we had to pump water almost continuously through the summer,” he says. “Fuel costs for irrigation were eating us up.”

With the drought pushing demand, Styles was sold out of hay by August. He picked up a few new customers, but most of his product went to long-time clients. “It was just a crazy year,” he says. “In August we were getting 25 calls a day from people looking for hay. We’re still getting one or two calls a day.”

To contact Styles, call 479-774-4400or email jameystyles@gmail.com.