Extremely tight supplies continue to put upward pressure on dairy-quality hay prices in western Missouri, reports hay grower and dealer Bill Garrett of Garrett Hay, Golden City.

Garrett grows alfalfa-orchardgrass hay on 300 acres and other hay on another 1,000 acres. Most of his hay is put up in 3 x 3 x 8’ square bales, but he also makes some small-square and round bales. About half of his production goes to dairies; the rest is split evenly between the beef and horse markets. He also buys and resells hay, focusing most of his marketing efforts within a 300-mile radius of home.

“A year ago at this time, we were delivering top-notch alfalfa here out of western Kansas for $185/ton,” says Garrett. “By last December the price was peaking at around $320/ton.”

Since then, the supply of alfalfa available “at a workable price” has been nearly non-existent in the region. “We’ve been buying mostly out of Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska,” he says. “The delivered price is in the $275-300 range. But, in my opinion, the quality we’ve been able to bring in isn’t really good enough to justify that kind of price.”

Even lower-quality grass hay has been selling for eye-popping prices in the area, says Garrett. “For the junk grass hay that’s still available, they’re wanting $50-60/bale (1,100-1,200 lbs). And it’s really poor hay.”

He heard one report of prairie hay in 3 x 3 x 8’ bales selling for $160/ton. “That’s about double what the price was last spring. It blows my mind.”

It’s hard to get a handle on what prices are likely to do when this year’s new crop comes, Garrett says. “Dairy producers are really struggling. In order to sell to them, prices are going to have to come down. On the other hand, with the supply as low as it is, I don’t see how prices can come down. It’s going to be a standoff for awhile until we see what the weather does. We’ll know a lot more in September.”

To contact Garrett, call 417-825-1403 or email garretthay@live.com.