A combination of feedback from contacts in the West, USDA’s Prospective Plantings report in late March, and May 1 hay stocks estimates last week are pointing to reduced 2018, alfalfa hay supplies in the West. Old crop hay stocks, according to USDA, were down 58 percent in California on May 1, 2018 with Washington State down 30 percent. USDA reported 2 percent fewer hay acres in the seven Western states in their March 31 Prospective Plantings report.

Evidence of fewer alfalfa hay supplies can be seen in delivered hay prices in Central California. Supreme alfalfa hay is currently delivering for $285 to $295, with an occasional $300 per ton to dairies in Tulare and Hanford, Calif. This is $20 to $30 higher than a year ago. As more dairies try to reduce costs on hay by buying Good alfalfa hay at a delivered price of $255 to $280 per ton, this has driven Good alfalfa hay prices up $40 to $50 per ton from the same time last year.

Seth Hoyt

Author of The Hoyt Report, providing hay market analysis and insight.