Weather has crimped first-cut hay quality in many parts of the Upper Midwest. But top-end alfalfa prices in the region could improve as the season moves along, believes Davis, IL, hay producer and dealer Don Brown, Jr.

“Just about everybody got off to a late start, and a lot of dry hay got rained on,” says Brown, a past president of the Illinois Forage and Grassland Council. “There was some good hay made. But the quality overall wasn’t as high as what we saw last year. A lot of people went to making baleage just to get their crops off the field. That held the (new-crop) inventory in check. There’s going to be demand for higher-quality, dry dairy hay.”

Brown and his wife, Sandee, buy and sell hay and straw for resale, as well as designate 300 acres of their 600-acre farm to hay production. They put up alfalfa, alfalfa-grass and straight-grass hay in 3 x 3 x 8’ bales marketed to dairies, beef operations and horse owners. Their three trucks deliver in their target market area of Illinois, Wisconsin and Iowa.

The couple started second-crop harvest mid-month. “Tonnage was looking pretty good,” Brown says. During that time, high-test alfalfa in his marketing area was bringing around $260/ton. Coarser first-crop hay – hay put up overmature due to weather delays – was bringing about $200/ton. For “good-feeding, soft” grass hay, Brown pegged the market at $200-260/ton.

The Browns can be reached at 815-238-8372 or don.brownjr@yahoo.com.

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