Declining corn prices appear to be a major factor behind slackening demand for dairy-quality alfalfa hay in Oklahoma.

“We’re hearing more and more about dairy producers decreasing the amount of alfalfa in their rations and increasing the corn,” says Jack Carson, reporter for Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry (ODAFF) in Oklahoma City. “That’s had a huge impact on alfalfa demand.”

And also on alfalfa prices. In recent weeks, large square bales of premium-quality alfalfa have been selling for $195-225/ton. A year ago, the price was $250-275/ton.

Prices for fair- to good-quality alfalfa are also slumping, bringing $140-170 vs. last year’s $200-220/ton. Supply is driving much of the market. “It’s a great time to be a beef producer looking for alfalfa,” says Carson. “There’s plenty of it out there.”

Those huge supplies, due mostly to early season weather glitches, brought weak grass-hay prices in the state. Native-grass hay, in 4 x 5’ rounds, is selling for as little as $25/bale. A year ago, that kind of hay was selling for up to $60/bale.

Bermudagrass 5 x 6’ rounds have been bringing around $50 each. Last year at this time, they fetched $70-80/bale. “It’s simple cowboy math,” says Carson. “Demand is down; supply is up.”

The abundance of hay throughout the state has sellers making use of the ODAFF online hay directory. “In the last couple of weeks, I’ve been getting a lot of calls from people looking to list their hay for sale. But I haven’t received any calls from people looking to buy hay.”

To contact Carson, call 405-522-3752 or email jack.carson@ag.ok.gov.

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