A drop in milk prices in California corresponds to a sharp falloff in alfalfa hay prices in neighboring Nevada in recent weeks, reports Jon Hill, manager of Nevada Hay Growers Association, Yerington.

“The market has dropped quite a bit,” says Hill. “It’s definitely a challenge for our growers right now.”

Representing 70 growers, the association typically sells 90,000-100,000 tons of hay annually. Alfalfa accounts for around 90% of the total.

Currently, first-cutting, supreme-quality alfalfa is bringing $235/ton at the stack. Last year at this time, the price was closer to $280/ton.

Sales activity has been fairly light so far, Hill notes. “It’s been a real odd year up to this point. People will buy a load here and there, but there haven’t been a lot of big sales. And we haven’t seen a lot of export firms buying in Nevada so far. Traditionally, the exporters are more active here on second and third cuttings. Last year they were buying a lot of first cutting, too.”

Hill’s “puzzled” about where the market might be heading. “It’s still early in the year. I think a lot of buyers and sellers alike are waiting to see what the market does before committing to a deal. If we start seeing a little better milk price, hay prices should stabilize. After we finish up with our second and third cuttings, we’ll have a much better idea of where this market is likely to shake out.”

To contact Hill, call 775-463-2325 or email jonh120@hotmail.com.