All-hay and alfalfa January hay price averages both had price gains in USDA’s most recent Agricultural Prices report. The all-hay price was up $3 per ton from December to $139; that is $17 per ton higher than January 2017. Hay other than alfalfa gained $6 per ton from the previous month to $124, which was also $6 per ton above January 2017.

The January alfalfa hay price jumped $4 per ton from the previous month, averaging $152 per ton. Compared to where we started in January 2017, that’s $26 per ton higher.

It appears that weather factors are starting to play a more significant role in price movement. Drought concerns are widespread in the West and Northern Plains. As of February 20, approximately 37 percent of U.S. hay acres were experiencing some level of drought. Conversely, too much rain and ice have producers a bit worried in much of the Midwest and East.

The USDA price averages account for all qualities of hay sold, and the final U.S. estimate is a volume-weighted average rather than a simple average of state values. Those states with the most volume sales will impact the final U.S. dollar value more than states with fewer sales.

Almost all states experienced alfalfa price gains for January. Those with the largest gains included drought-stricken Oklahoma (plus $22), Nevada (plus $20), North Dakota (plus $18), and California (plus $15). Only four states had price reductions and all of those were minimal.

The highest alfalfa hay prices are being reported from New York ($238 per ton), Kentucky ($210 per ton), California ($200 per ton), and Nevada ($190 per ton). The lowest prices can be found in Nebraska ($102 per ton), North Dakota ($108 per ton), and Iowa ($116 per ton).