Washington hay grower Mark Herbes will likely boost the prices he charges customers by $10-15/ton this year.

“Just about everything – fuel, fertilizer and parts – has been going up,” says Herbes, president of the Northeast Washington Hay Growers Association (NEWHGA). “We’ll have to charge more to cover some of those increased costs.”

Herbes grows alfalfa and orchardgrass separately and as a mix, as well as timothy, on 500 acres near Deer Park. He sells about two-thirds of his annual production to dairies in western Washington and the remainder to local horse owners. He packages most of his hay in 3 x 4 x 8’ large square bales weighing around 1,200 lbs, but also makes small squares weighing around 100 lbs.

In 2012, Herbes charged $185/ton for second-crop dairy hay and $165/ton for first-crop. Across the board, the price was up about $10/ton from that of the previous year. “The price was pretty good for dryland hay,” he says. “ Some of the nicer irrigated alfalfa in our area was selling at $230-250/ton.”

February and March were “a little on the dry side,” Herbes notes. But with normal spring weather, the dryness shouldn’t pose a major challenge for area growers. “We had a pretty wet fall all the way through December. The snow we did get went into the ground. So we should have a pretty good moisture reserve.”

Local growers should remember that the May 11 NEWHGA spring field day will be held at Dairy Lane Farms in Elk, Herbes says. Along with an overview of forage production and feeding programs at the host dairy, the event will feature presentations on phenoxy herbicides and sprayer calibration. Registration is $10 at the door.

To contact Herbes, call 509-276-5955 or email mherbes54@gmail.com.

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