A few days of heavy rainfall over the last couple of weeks brought the first cutting of alfalfa hay to a halt in the Southwest. The total rainfall in many areas was anywhere from 2 to 4 inches, a good portion of the region’s yearly total. With growers delaying cutting, concerns of the alfalfa hay becoming too mature was somewhat mitigated by the cooler temperatures. Most growers in the region expect to resume cutting this week.

I have had quite a few questions this week on the impact of the coronavirus on hay markets. The main issue right now is volatility in financial and other commodity markets. This has caused many domestic buyers of alfalfa hay to slow or halt their purchases to assess the markets. The historic drop in oil prices has impacted the ethanol/corn spot prices, and we could see some ripples through other feed commodity markets. Trading was limited last week on the remaining unsold supplies of alfalfa hay across the West, and prices were mostly steady.

There was some panic buying at feedstores for retail alfalfa hay, with contacts reporting strong demand from consumers stocking up. On the export side, shipping continues to be a challenge with canceled sailings and empty containers hard to find. Orders for alfalfa hay have been steady, with an uptick from China, but exporters have been filling these with already purchased inventory. Most export contacts outside of the Pacific Southwest have said they are only buying if they need it to fill a firm order.

Josh Callen

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