After trending downward for much of the winter, dairy-quality alfalfa hay prices have picked up recently at the Mid-American Auction Co. quality-tested hay sales in Sauk Centre, MN.

“It’s not unusual to see prices turn upward a little bit in the spring,” says Dan Martens, University of Minnesota Extension educator in Stearns, Benton and Morrison counties.

“Livestock producers are taking a look at their feed inventories and want to make sure they have enough on hand to get them through until the new crop. This year, we had a colder winter, so producers were going through more of their feed supplies to keep their livestock humming along. As a result, supplies may be running a little low on some farms.”

At Mid-American’s April 3 sale, four loads of alfalfa with relative feed value (RFV) in the 176-200 range sold for an average price of $292/ton. The prices ranged from $270 to $325/ton. Prices for nine loads of alfalfa at 151-175 RFV averaged $234/ton and ranged from $200 to $285/ton.

Spring in the region is “unfolding slowly,” Martens says. But there’s still plenty of time to wind up with a normal first-cut harvest schedule, which is typically one week on either side of Memorial Day weekend. “It will depend on what the weather does from here on out.”

New growth is starting in some fields. “It looks like alfalfa came through the winter in pretty good shape,” he says. Overnight temperatures dipped into the low- to mid-teens in some locations during the second week of April. “There might have been some frost damage to new shoots in some areas. But, overall, it wasn’t something that would kill the crop.”

To contact Martens, call 320-968-5077 or email marte011@umn.edu.