Even though hay supplies in northeastern Colorado “loosened up a little” right after the first of the year, prices have gone up $5-10/ton, reports hay grower Don Leonard of Brush.

Currently, supreme-quality hay is bringing $260-270/ton at the stack, while premium-quality hay is fetching $240-250/ton. “Prices across the board are about $100/ton higher than they were a year ago at this time,” says Leonard, who markets alfalfa hay off 2,500 acres. Included in that total are 450 irrigated acres of his own hay ground and another 2,000 acres he custom harvests for other growers.

Prices are likely to stay on the high side at least until the new crop starts coming in, Leonard says. “The hay shortage is real. They had pretty good production in North and South Dakota and Montana last year. But a lot of the supplies they had there are close to depleted because so much was shipped to New Mexico, Texas and other states hit by the drought. We’re still six months away from new crop, and there’s not a lot of hay to be found anywhere.”

High prices are unlikely to draw many acres in his area back into hay production this year, Leonard says. “Some hay growers might keep their existing acres in hay, and you might see a few more acres planted as part of normal rotations. But the corn prices are still pretty high, and the corn growers around here had a banner year for production. I don’t see many of those corn acres being drawn to hay.”

Leonard can be contacted at 970-380-2044 or donshay@kci.net.