The U.S. average alfalfa price fell by $6/ton to $216/ton and the average all-hay price dropped $5/ton to $192/ton from June to July, according to USDA’s Agricultural Prices report.

Hay prices usually hit seasonal lows this time of year, reminds Matt Diersen, ag economist with South Dakota State University. But the July 31 report shows most regions could be returning to their historic price differentials for hay, he says.

“Maybe the supply side is returning a little bit back to normal. The Northern Plains have some of the lowest prices in the country right now because they’re normally more of a hay surplus area. In Nevada, New Mexico and Washington … it’s not unusual for them to have relatively high prices.”

Much of the current price pressure is due to supply issues and transportation costs, not to lesser-quality hay produced in some parts of the nation, Diersen believes.

Hay Sells Well Through Facebook
Two savvy growers tell how they utilize Facebook to market their hay.

July’s average alfalfa price of $216/ton was down from the month-earlier price of $222/ton but higher than last year’s $209/ton July price. Last month’s all-hay price of $192/ton was down from June’s $197/ton average. But it was slightly higher than the July 2013 price of $190/ton.

Hay prices fell significantly in parts of the Northern Plains during the past month. Wisconsin saw the biggest decline, with the average price for all hay dipping $43/ton, from $176/ton in June to $133/ton in July. Average state alfalfa prices slid by $40/ton to $145/ton last month.

Minnesota’s average all-hay price decreased $42/ton, going from $153/ton in June to $111/ton in July. Last month, the state’s alfalfa prices dropped by an average of $35/ton to $135/ton. Iowa last month averaged $143/ton for all hay, which was $22/ton less than the June total, and $164/ton for alfalfa – a $16/ton lower price than that reported for June.

With the exception of Ohio, with a June-to-July increase of $15/ton to $175, Western states showed the largest alfalfa price gains for the month. Utah alfalfa prices increased by $25/ton to $195/ton; and Nevada prices were up $25/ton to $265 from June to July.

Two other Western states continue to pay high alfalfa prices, although those prices dropped by $5/ton. California’s average alfalfa price stood at $275/ton and New Mexico’s at $270/ton.