Each summer, Stephen Koontz and his family make the drive to his family’s Minnesota cabin. This year’s trip – in relation to the hay market – was a real eye-opener for the Colorado State University ag economist.
“I can’t recall it ever being so green. There wasn’t a place on the trip that you would consider dry," Koontz says of his personal windshield survey through parts of Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, North Dakota and Minnesota.
There’s enough hay available, Koontz says, that growers may want to sell existing supplies soon to take advantage of higher prices. “It’s shaping up to be a really good year.”
With rainfall continuing, however, there is concern that some of the new crop may not be high quality.
“Some are having to cut hay in the rain. And for those who don’t cut soon, it’s going to head out and go to seed.”
If hay quality does suffer, there will be “a lot of happy cowboys out there” as prices also decline. “Or at least they’ll be as happy as a cowboy can get,” Koontz says with a laugh.
At least for now, hay prices haven’t declined in Colorado, but “I wouldn’t be surprised if we see prices fall off quite a bit,” he says. “How far it will fall off, I don't know.”
State hay prices remain steady compared to the previous week’s levels, according to USDA’s Colorado Hay Report, released June 26.
Much of the hay in the northeastern part of the state has been rained on and quality has taken a hit; all other areas are still cutting or waiting to cut.
Prices for large squares of alfalfa in the northeast were $200-240/ton for supreme quality, $170/ton for premium quality, $150/ton delivered for good to premium quality, $125-150/ton for good-quality delivered and $140-$150 for fair-quality delivered. Premium small bales of grass hay sold for $8-10/bale or $280-350/ton. Good-quality wheat straw in large squares fetched $70-90/ton delivered.
In the southeast, large squares of supreme-premium alfalfa sold for $240-250/ton; premium, $230/ton; good, $190/ton; and fair, $150/ton. Small bales of fair-quality alfalfa went for $180/ton.
In the San Luis Valley Area, large squares of premium alfalfa were selling for $240/ton.
In the southwest, good-quality alfalfa large squares sold for $235/ton; fair- to good-quality large rounds, $150/ton. Premium-quality alfalfa-grass mixes, in small bales, marketed for $280/ton or $8/bale.
In the mountain region and the northwestern part of the state, small squares of premium alfalfa priced at $8/bale or $250/ton.
Grass hay large squares went for $200-215/ton at fair-to-good quality and $170-180/ton at fair quality, while utility hay priced at 150/ton.
Colorado alfalfa hay prices averaged, in June, at $210/ton compared with $215/ton in May and $245/ton in June 2013, according to the Agricultural Prices report released June 27 by USDA. The state’s June average price for all hay was $209/ton, compared with $214/ton in May. All-hay prices averaged $244/ton in June 2013.