Prices are firm and there is not a lot of extra hay in Washington and Oregon, according to Jack Getz, USDA Market News reporter at Moses Lake, WA. "Hay gets sold just about as fast as it gets made," he says. "Producers had a good summer with very good production. Supplies of dairy and horse hay will remain tight and prices are expected to stay on the high side." Some growers baled rained-on hay, but not as much as in previous years. "The export market has also been strong and prices have been staying up there," Getz reports. "Compared to other areas, our hay supplies are tight so we should start off next year with strong prices."
Dairy and export hay markets have been good for Washington hay growers and production has been going well, reports Shawn Clausen, president of the Washington State Hay Growers Association and owner of Stokrose Farm, Warden. "We have had good growing conditions for most of the summer. Second- and third-cutting demand has been pretty high, and we are starting to get a lot of calls for fourth cutting from people trying to lock it in," he states. "We expect an average overall production year. Our yields won't be above-average because of the cold spring we had."
First-cutting yields were down slightly due to the cool temperatures. Quality was good, but there wasn't a lot of high-testing first cutting for the dairy market, Clausen says. "Last year everything got rained on with the first cutting, so compared to the beating we took then, things went really well. I would say around 25% of the first cutting was rained on this year. There has been a lot of excellent-quality hay put up for the export market in the second and third cuttings. I don't expect fall plantings to increase. I am hearing from a lot of seed salesmen that seed is starting to get tight due to the number of seed companies that had been geared up for Roundup Ready alfalfa. Some of the good varieties seem to be sold out or running short. With high wheat and corn prices, I see a lot of people going toward those commodities instead of expanding their hay acres. My feeling is that next year is going to be another good year for hay if we have the quality."
Clausen says hay prices in his area are running $20-30/ton above last year's level.
Contact Getz at 509-765-3611, Bohle at 541-447-6228 and Clausen at 509-349-2324.