The typical hay price decline that occurs in summer kicked into gear during July, at least for alfalfa. According to the latest USDA Agricultural Prices report, the average alfalfa price dropped by $5 per ton in July to $174 per ton. That price is $11 per ton below last year, but the spread is starting to shrink.

Three states posted double-digit price gains, and those were led by Oklahoma, up $35 per ton, and Michigan and Utah, both up $10 per ton from the previous month.

Price decliners were led by Minnesota (down $24 per ton), Idaho (down $15), Washington (down $12), and Arizona and Wyoming, both down $10.

The highest average alfalfa hay prices were reported in Colorado ($225), Pennsylvania ($221 per ton), and New Mexico ($215). Kentucky and Oregon were both at $205 per ton.

The lowest prices were posted in North Dakota ($91 per ton), South Dakota ($92), and Nebraska ($107).

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.

Supreme and Premium

The USDA also tracks the prices of Supreme and Premium 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 July, the average price of Supreme and Premium alfalfa hay dropped by $9 per ton from June to $192. That followed a $10 drop from May to June. A year ago, the average price of Supreme and Premium alfalfa hay was $209 per ton.

Other hay

The July average price of other hay (mostly grass hay) broke ranks and increased by $9 per to $137. That July price was $3 above July 2019.

The highest prices for hay other than alfalfa were reported in Colorado ($230 per ton), Washington ($220), and Arizona and Nevada, both at $180.

States with the lowest reported other hay average prices included North Dakota ($74 per ton), South Dakota ($76), Nebraska ($80), and Minnesota ($81).