Quality alfalfa and grass hay supplies remain tight in northeastern Washington, reports Matt Kummer of Kummer Farms in Elk.

“It was pretty wet early on in the growing season,” says the hay grower, who’s also treasurer of the Northeast Washington Hay Growers Association. “We had a lot of rained-on hay, especially for first cutting. As a result, the hay supply here is on the short side.”

Kummer grows alfalfa and orchardgrass on 300 acres. His first cutting is harvested as silage for a beef cattle herd. Most of his second-crop orchardgrass, from 150 acres, is sold to horse owners in Spokane, but he also has several customers 90 miles away near Moscow, ID. It’s packaged in small square bales each weighing 75-90 lbs. As a niche market, he also sells some second-crop alfalfa to deer hunters who buy 10 bales or so at a time.

Strong local demand and a production shortfall in the mid-Columbia Basin have kept prices high, Kummer notes. “In the basin, they had a wet year, too, and hay acres were down because more growers were planting corn. As a result, we had more exporters coming into our area this year looking for hay than in the past. The beef feedlots in that part of the state were also actively buying here this year.”

Right now, high-quality orchardgrass in the area brings $210-260/ton at the farm. Kummer is already sold out for the season. “We had to buy some hay from neighbors to fill orders from our customers,” he says.

To contact Kummer, call 509-998-0777 or email kummerfarms@yahoo.com