Sagging milk prices could take some of the upward pressure off hay prices in the year ahead, says Jon Hill, sales manager for Nevada Hay Growers, Inc., a 95-member growers’ cooperative based in Yerington.

“I’m anticipating a little settling in the market,” he says. “Milk prices have dropped, and (dairy producers) are not making a lot of money.”

On the flip side, Hill doesn’t expect a big drop. “There will still be a shortage of hay this year.”

As of early last week, Nevada Hay Growers had sold all but about 5,000 tons of the 100,000 or so tons produced by co-op members in 2011. Along with alfalfa, members also put up grass and grain hays. While dairies in Nevada and neighboring states are Nevada Hay’s primary market, the co-op also sold roughly 30,000 tons to export firms.

Supreme- and premium-quality hay has been selling for around $240-250/ton, roughly $100/ton higher than the year-ago price, Hill reports. “We sold some organic hay for as high as $320/ton. And we sold some grinder-type hay for as low as $100/ton.”

To contact Hill, call 775-221-3286 or email jonh120@hotmail.com.