A healthy dose of snow would be more than a little welcome by Nebraska alfalfa growers this winter, says Barb Kinnan, executive director of the Nebraska Alfalfa Marketing Association.

“We’re going to need some good snow cover to build up our soil moisture after this summer’s drought. If we don’t get it, we’ll be hurting next year.” Yet it shouldn’t show up too early, Kinnan adds. “If we have an early winter, we’ll go through our feed supplies a lot faster.”

Hay supplies remain short in most parts of Nebraska. “Even the hay that was under irrigation suffered some this summer because of so many hot days in a row. It took its toll.”

Three or four years of declining hay acreage have also played a role in the shortfall. “That hay just isn’t in production anymore.”

On the upside, the product that was put up this year was of very high quality. “There wasn’t any rained-on hay to deal with.” Plus, there’s still some hay for sale. “I really don’t know how much there is or how long it’s going to last,” says Kinnan. “Everybody, everywhere is looking for hay right now.”

Currently, dairy-quality hay is selling for around $300/ton at the stack in most areas of the state. Kinnan is surprised to see little or no price spread between dairy-quality and lower-testing hays.

Even with extremely tight supply, she doesn’t look for prices to move much higher in the months ahead. “Dairy producers just don’t have the money to pay a higher price. All of their feed costs are up. It’s not just hay. And the milk price has been terrible. That tells me the market has pretty much topped out.”

To contact Kinnan, call 800-743-1649or email nebalf@cozadtel.net.