Alfalfa hay prices continue to drop in most states according to the most recent Agricultural Prices report released August 31 by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). Only four of 27 reported states showed prices higher than one year ago (July to July). Overall, the year-to-year average U.S. alfalfa hay price is $48 per ton less in 2015 than 2014. The largest price drops (dollars per ton) were for Arizona (-90), California (-90), Nevada (-85), Kansas (-62), Oklahoma (-56) and New Mexico (-55).
Comparing June to July 2015, U.S. average alfalfa price dropped $9 per ton from $178 to $169. Only Montana, North Dakota, Ohio and Oregon had month-to-month price increases, which were mostly minimal. The largest average price declines came from Minnesota (-37), New York (-30), California (-20) and Wisconsin (-17).
There are several things worth consideration with these reports. First, the U.S. average price is weighted by volume. In other words, it's not a simple average of the reported states. States like California with large volumes of hay sold will impact the final U.S. numbers more than states where lower volumes are sold. Further, the report takes into account all forage grades sold. Hence, if a greater amount of lower quality is sold relative to higher quality hay, the average price will also trend lower. We have heard repeatedly in 2015 that the stocks and sales of Fair and Good quality hay have exceeded that of Premium and Supreme grades in many regions.
In the hay other than alfalfa category, the U.S. average price per ton changed very little on both a year-to-year (-4) and month-to-month (+2) basis. The year-to-year average is especially puzzling given the number of states with significant reductions, though others like Pennsylvania (+48), Michigan (+40) and Nevada (+35) did show price jumps.