The law of supply and demand is just one factor that Larry Vough takes into account when adjusting hay prices from year to year.

This year, the Somerset, PA, hay grower raised prices by $25/ton. That was mostly due to higher input costs – especially fertilizer and fuel costs.

“There isn’t a lot of high-quality hay out there, so I probably could have raised them more,” says Vough, of Second Wind Farms. He packages reed canarygrass-alfalfa and timothy-alfalfa hay grown on 75 acres in 40-lb small square bales.

About 80% is sold to two large training stables in central Maryland and the rest to a couple smaller stables in Pennsylvania and Maryland. “Customer loyalty is important. I want to know that those customers will keep coming back from one year to the next. So I wanted to keep prices in line.”

Currently, small squares of grass hay in Vough’s area are fetching $4/bale, about $1/bale more than they were in 2011. “That’s for good first or second cutting. The real high-quality stuff can even bring a little bit more.

“If it’s a rough winter, the price will go up,” he adds. “There seems to be plenty of low-quality hay around, but the high-quality stuff is hard to come by. An open winter will hold prices down.”

Vough can be reached at 814-289-5319 or larry.vough@swfarms.com.