The start of 2020 saw the average U.S. price for alfalfa drop $4 per ton from December. The latest USDA Agricultural Prices report pegged alfalfa at $171 per ton, which was $8 per ton lower than one year ago.

There were no states that posted significant hay price gains for January.

Price decliners were easily led by Wisconsin, which was down $51 per ton and was probably a correction from last month. Other states with double-digit declines included Iowa (down $19), Oklahoma (down $12), and Nebraska (down $11).

The highest average alfalfa hay prices were reported in Pennsylvania ($228 per ton) and Colorado ($225 per ton). New Mexico and Ohio both checked in at $220 per ton.

The lowest prices were posted in North Dakota ($91 per ton), Nebraska ($103), and South Dakota ($112).

Keep in mind that the USDA average prices account for all qualities of hay sold. Also, 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 those states with fewer sales.

The USDA also tracks the prices of Premium and Supreme quality alfalfa in the major dairy states and determines an average price from the five leading milk-producing states. This data is being used to determine feed prices in the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program.

For January, the average price of Premium and Supreme alfalfa hay rose by $10 from December to $210 per ton, which was still $11 below one year ago.

Other hay

The January average price of other hay (mostly grass hay) rose by $1 per ton from the previous month to $134, which was $16 per ton below one year ago.

The highest prices for hay other than alfalfa were reported in Colorado ($225 per ton), Arizona ($200), and New Mexico ($190).

States with the lowest reported other hay average prices included North Dakota ($62 per ton), Nebraska ($86), Oklahoma ($89), and South Dakota ($94).