A relatively warm spring has alfalfa and grass hayfields coming along nicely at Neal Briggs’ farm near Syracuse, UT. “A year ago at this time, we were getting a lot of cold weather,” says Briggs, who puts up alfalfa, grass and alfalfa-grass mixes on 300 irrigated acres. “We didn’t get started with first cutting until Memorial Day. This year it’s likely we’ll be able to start up in mid-May. That’s more typical for us. Right now it’s looking like we’ll have a pretty good year.”

Briggs markets 75-lb small square bales to horse owners in Salt Lake City, Ogden and parts of Wyoming. He’s also sold hay in California.

Weather-related problems during much of the 2011 growing season crimped yields throughout the region. On the upside, the resulting supply shortfall pushed prices upward. “Through the summer, we were charging $6/bale (at the barn). When we got into the middle of winter, we went up to $8/bale. That’s $2/bale more than we were getting the year before.”

With some 2011 hay left, Briggs recently backed his price down to $7/bale. “It’s supply and demand. We want to get our barns cleaned out before the new crop comes on."

The grower hasn’t yet figured out what to charge this year. “Our input costs – fertilizer, fuel, parts and tires – are all going up. So I don’t see our prices softening very much. We’ll likely stay at $6/bale through the summer, then see what happens.”

To contact Briggs, call 801-825-3981 or email briggsfarmer@yahoo.com.