Prices often push upward during March at the Shippensburg Auction Center’stwice-weekly hay-and-straw sales in Shippensburg, PA. Auction manager David Leinbach doesn’t think that will happen this year.

“For the next couple of months, I’m expecting prices to stay about the same as they’ve been in the past couple of months,” he says. “It’s looking more and more like we’re going to have an early spring here. Cattle and horses will be out on pasture and people are unlikely to be buying a lot of hay ahead of time. That tends to keep the market a little more even.”

Over winter, prices for high-quality hay in the region remained relatively strong. Good-quality, second-cutting alfalfa in small square bales has been fetching around $300/ton. Large square and round bales of the same quality have been bringing $50/ton less. First-cutting timothy, brome and orchardgrass hay destined for the horse market has been bringing $250 on down, depending on quality. Compared to year-ago levels, prices have been running $75-100/ton higher.

Prices have softened a bit on lower-quality hay. “There’s a lot of lower-quality hay in this area, especially grass hay,” says Leinbach. “With all the rainy weather we had last summer, a lot of hay was made overmature.”

Hay-and-straw sales at the Shippensburg Auction Center are held on Tuesdays and Saturdays year-round. All sales begin at noon. For more information, call 717-532-5511.