After a fairly brisk trade in early summer, in-state movement of grass hay in Oklahoma has slowed considerably in recent weeks.

“It has tapered off quite a bit,” says Jack Carson, reporter for Oklahoma Department of Agriculture-USDA Market News in Oklahoma City. “Remembering what last year was like, a lot of people went out and bought their hay early this year. Our cattle numbers in the state are down quite a bit as well.”

A fair amount of Oklahoma hay has been moving to Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas and Colorado. “It’s been quite a turnaround from last year when we were importing just about all of our hay here,” says Carson. “We’re also seeing more out-of-state buyers making use of our online hay directory this year. Last year, that was not the case.”

Fair-to-good mixed-grass hay in 4 x 5’ round bales has been selling for $50-70/bale in the central and western regions of the state, and $50-60 in eastern Oklahoma. Small square bales of bermudagrass have been bringing $7-9/bale in central Oklahoma; $6-8 in the eastern part of the state.

For dairy-quality alfalfa in large square bales, the top-end price has settled in at around $250/ton at the barn or tarped at the edge of the field. “Delivered prices can be quite a bit higher than that, of course,” says Carson.

Milk prices will determine how long alfalfa prices remain at current levels. “Many dairies are still losing a lot of money. It’s hard to see them being able to pay too much more for hay than they’re paying right now. On the other hand, they’ve also modified their rations to the point where they can’t modify much more. Eventually, this market has to turn around.”

To contact Carson, call 405-522-3752 or email jack.carson@ag.ok.gov.