An extended stretch of mild, late fall-early winter weather has held hay prices in check in central Virginia, reports auctioneer Tom Weaver. “We had a long fall,” says Weaver, who manages regularly scheduled hay auctions in Harrisonburg and Staunton. “The grass was still growing up until a few weeks ago, so there were a lot of animals out there nibbling on pasture rather than feeding on hay.”

The net result is that hay prices at the auctions in recent weeks have been off $30-40/ton from year-earlier levels. Mixed-grass hay, packaged in round bales, has been selling for $90-110/ton, while large square bales have been fetching $10/ton more. Dairy-quality alfalfa and alfalfa-grass hay in large squares has been bringing $180-220/ton. Small squares weighing 48-55 lbs have been bringing $4-6/bale.

With the onset of winter weather, prices will likely nudge upward in the weeks ahead, says Weaver, noting that he’s also been getting “lots of calls” from would-be buyers in neighboring Pennsylvania. “Supplies there appear to be short, and prices have been a good bit higher than they’ve been here.”

At the same time, Weaver expects sales volume at his auctions to increase in coming weeks. “Lately, we’ve been running about 40-50 loads/sale,” he says. “That’s off a little from last year. But a lot of people have been holding off on selling their hay, thinking that the price is likely to go up this winter.”

The hay auction at Harrisonburg is held on the first, third and fifth Wednesdays of the month year-round. The Staunton auction takes place on the second and fourth Mondays of the month, October through May. Auctions at both locations begin at 10 a.m. To contact Weaver, call 540-435-0020 or email tweaverauctions@gmail.com.