Unusually warm weather has pushed along hay growth at a faster-than-normal pace in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley this spring. Plentiful rainfall in the last two weeks of April was icing on the cake, says Tom Weaver of T. Weaver Auctioneering in Harrisonburg.

“Everything is growing nicely,” says Weaver, who owns and manages hay auctions in Harrisonburg and Staunton under the business name Rushville Hay Auction. “Right now it looks to be a right good first cutting.”

Weaver made his first sales of 2012 new-crop hay at Harrisonburg on April 18. That’s three to four weeks earlier than he normally sees first cutting come on the market in his area. One load of alfalfa brought $266/ton, while a load of alfalfa-orchardgrass sold for $230/ton. “It was really nice-looking hay, with that nice, real-green color people like to see at this time of year,” he says.

With first crop coming on strong and a fairly sizable carryover supply of “decent” hay following a mild winter, Weaver looks for hay prices to trend downward slightly in the year ahead. “That’s unless we turn dry,” he says. “If we get a 30-day stretch with little or no rain, things could turn around quickly.”

Year-round hay auctions are held on the first, third and fifth Wednesdays of the month at the Rushville Hay Auction in Harrisonburg and on the second and fourth Mondays of each month at the Staunton location. Auctions at both locations begin at 10 a.m.

To contact Weaver, call 540-435-0020 or email tweaverauctions@gmail.com.