All signs point to record-high alfalfa hay yields this year for California growers, reports the California Alfalfa & Forage Association (CAFA). "With dry-cow alfalfa hay prices at unprecedented levels, it was evident that growers were harvesting for tonnage this summer," writes Seth Hoyt, senior economist with the California Field Office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service, in the CAFA News.
California dairy producers had money to buy hay as of late June, when overbase milk prices in California reached $20/cwt. Some dairies, however, were unable to find enough dry-cow or milk-cow alfalfa hay to carry them through winter and sought out-of-state hay, Hoyt says. That helped California hay prices become the highest in the nation.
Record tonnage was imported into California in July and August. The CAFA News says 101,269 tons of alfalfa hay were trucked in from other Western states in July alone -- an increase of 52% over last year's figures. A whopping 109,926 tons were trucked in during August, a 95% increase from the year before. States that rarely ship hay to California, such as Montana, Wyoming and Colorado, did so.
Hoyt's sources indicate that the overall inventory of unsold hay in the state, including barn hay, is lower than it was a year ago. He expects barn hay prices to be strong in the coming months.