Haying weather has greatly improved over the last 10 days in the West. Parts of the Pacific Northwest and the Great Basin areas have second cutting in the bale, and the quality looks good. After close to record-setting rainfall in June, a drier July has been welcomed.
The June rainfall damaged upwards of 50% of first-cutting timothy in Washington state. As first cutting is considered the highest quality, exporters have been actively looking to secure quality hay. This has caused some competitive bidding for the nicest stacks with prices at about $50 per ton above last year.
Demand from dairies is improving with the recovery in Class III milk prices. Not all dairies have that outlet for their milk, so demand is still mixed with the Class IV milk price $10 per hundredweight (cwt.) lower than Class III.
In the Desert Southwest, growers are into the summer season with dry summer hay being produced. Demand for this quality of hay in that region has been light and prices are steady to weak. Central California is a normal outlet for this hay, but buyers have been staying put with ample supplies of dry-cow quality alfalfa hay locally.
The USDA released its hay acres harvested estimates for 2020 last week. Overall, the USDA estimates the alfalfa hay acres harvested in the 11 Western states for 2020 will be down 6% from last year. The states with notable drops are California, Montana, and Oregon.
Author of The Hoyt Report, providing hay market analysis and insight.