A surplus of hay and other feedstuffs, coupled with a demand falloff, continues to put downward pressure on alfalfa markets in Kansas. That’s the observation of Steve Hessman, market reporter with the USDA-Kansas Department of Agriculture Market News in Dodge City.

Plentiful rainfall in July and August enabled Kansas growers to produce their best alfalfa crop in three years.

“We’re not back to normal yet, but it was definitely better than it was in the last couple of years,” he says. The favorable growing-season weather also led to huge sudan, cane, millet and corn silage crops in the state.

On the demand side, Kansas cattle numbers are still down following two years of drought, and mild fall weather has enabled beef producers to fall graze more crop residue and delay weaning calves. “So they haven’t had to feed much hay this fall.”

In southwestern Kansas, grinding-quality alfalfa hay either in field corners or delivered to feedyards is selling at around $150/ton. A year ago, the price was $230-250/ton.

With little high-quality dairy hay around, many dairies are taking advantage of favorable corn silage prices and feeding less alfalfa in rations. Currently, the bid price on premium-quality hay in that part of the state is $200-210/ton.

“We have seen a little bit of the really good stuff selling for around $240-250,” says Hessman. He’s also heard reports in recent weeks of some alfalfa moving out of north-central Kansas “to points back east” and bringing as much as $260/ton. “It was pretty good hay.”

The current market as “weather-sensitive,” Hessman says. “If it stays mild through the winter, this hay market will stay under pressure. But if we get a big snowstorm or two and people have to feed all the cattle that are still out there grazing, things could turn around in a hurry.”

To contact Hessman, call 620-227-8881 or email steve.hessman@kda.ks.gov.

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