Kevin Nelson of Nelson Hay Co., Hadley, is counting the days until the Minnesota Horse Expo on April 25-27 at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. He sells hay to horse clients throughout Minnesota and surrounding states, and uses his booth at the Horse Expo trade show to gain new customers and renew hay delivery contracts with existing customers. He has been mailing contracts out to existing customers and expects to have limited amounts of hay to contract this year.

“After the drought last year, I had to make sure all contracts were filled,” he states. “Unfortunately, I had to turn down a lot of call-ins because of the shortage. Corn and bean markets are pushing up land rent prices. Due to the cash rent and fertilizer cost increases, I have to raise the hay price $25/ton. I haven't accounted for fuel price increases on the production side, because I hope those will come down during the season, or it is my loss. I do expect sales to be down due to the economy.” Nelson, who figures he’s about 60 days away from taking a first cutting, is going to offer a $15/ton price difference between small square bales and medium square bales. “I am hoping to get customers to switch over to the medium squares to make baling, handling and deliveries more efficient,” he says. “Small squares are time- and labor-intensive.”

Nelson’s contract customers pick their prices based on delivery time. If they ask for fall delivery, they pay an extra $5/ton for storage. Delivery during January through March results in an extra $10/ton storage fee. “The quicker I can get it out of my shed the less risk I have,” Nelson says. He asks for a $30/ton down payment to secure contracts.

He sends customers regular email newsletters and also has a Web site at Contact Nelson at 507-836-6181.