Nebraska

The alfalfa market has been strong in Nebraska this winter, says Bruce Anderson, University of Nebraska extension forage specialist. "Dairy hay prices have been very strong, while a relatively average to below-average tonnage of dairy-quality hay has been available," he states. Prices paid for hay that is not quite dairy quality, but that can be used for feedlot grinding hay or for stock cows, have held fairly firm.

Much of Nebraska has had snow cover for longer than usual this winter. Temperatures have almost constantly been below freezing or close to it, so there hasn't been much snow melt until very recently. These conditions diminished the quantity and quality of some of the state's winter grazing.

Anderson doesn't think Nebraska will see a big change in hay acres converted to corn this year. "We saw a little bit of that already last year, and I think we will see a little bit this year," he says. "But with hay prices staying strong, and cattle numbers remaining fairly stable, the demand for hay should remain strong, too. I don't expect big changes. It is not an easy change to make when you consider the equipment investment that is sitting there for people."

Contact Anderson at 402-472-6237.

New Mexico

New Mexico hay markets are beginning to get established for 2008, according to the New Mexico Hay Association (NMHA). Demand is strong and supplies are yet to be determined, but indicators point to a deficit dairy hay supply, which should keep markets strong and active. Hay prices are expected to increase as much as $30/ton in some areas. Drastic rises in input costs and the indirect impact of corn for ethanol, as well as a strong milk price, are leading indicators for the trend.

The recent Southwest Hay and Forage Conference drew a record crowd of more than 200 people in Ruidoso, reports Gina Sterrett, NMHA secretary. "The addition of forage topics to the agenda seemed to be timely and appropriate with the increased dairy numbers in New Mexico combined with the fact that forages are the most prevalent rotator crop," says Doug Whitney, outgoing NMHA president and a hay grower from Roswell. Whitney stepped down from the presidency at this year's conference after serving seven years. Duane Riggs, Hatch, was chosen as the new president, and Joel Klein, Tatum, was elected vice president. Ethan Fuchs from Santa Rosa and David Sterrett from Dexter were also elected as new board members.

Contact NMHA at www.nmhay.com, or call Sterrett at 505-626-5677 or Whitney at 505-622-8080.