One of the most striking events in the alfalfa hay market in the West is the narrow price between the bottom and top of the alfalfa hay market. This is the result of tight supplies of feeder/dry cow alfalfa hay, which has pushed prices higher. For example, last week in Idaho, Fair quality hay brought $140 to $150 per ton FOB stack and Supreme alfalfa hay was trading for around $170 to $180; this is one of the narrowest price spreads in history.

There has been good demand for feeder hay from beef cow-calf and feedlot operators and even exporters in Washington. But a different story exists for higher quality alfalfa hay. Lower milk prices continue to limit demand from dairies for Premium to Supreme alfalfa hay, and there is no indication when milk prices will improve. Export demand for alfalfa hay has been limited in some areas of the West because of the trade war with China, although demand from the Middle East has pushed Fair quality alfalfa hay export prices higher in Washington.

Seth Hoyt

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