The average price of U.S. alfalfa hay in December moved up $2 per ton after dropping $4 in November. The $169 per ton December price was $3 per ton below one year ago. December Supreme and Premium alfalfa hay prices moved up by $3 per ton to $203.

The latest USDA Agricultural Prices report pegged other hay (mostly grass) at $134 per ton, $2 lower than the previous month and last year’s December price.

It’s now official that the high-water mark for the 2020 monthly average alfalfa price will be $181 per ton, which occurred in April. That high price for the year was $19 below the top price of 2019.

Five states registered a double-digit month-over-month alfalfa price improvement in December, led by Colorado and Pennsylvania at $15 per ton higher. Oklahoma was $14 per ton higher, followed by Nebraska (up $11), Kansas (up $10), and Texas (up $10).

Only two states had a double-digit alfalfa price declines for December, and those were Wisconsin (down $18) and Washington (down $10).

The highest average alfalfa hay prices were reported in Pennsylvania ($265 per ton), New Mexico ($225), Kentucky ($215), and Texas ($214).

The lowest prices were posted in North Dakota ($87 per ton), South Dakota ($110) and Nebraska ($118).

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 December, the average price of Supreme and Premium alfalfa hay moved higher by $3 per ton to $203. One year ago, the average price of Supreme and Premium alfalfa hay was $200 per ton.

Other hay

The December average price of other hay averaged $134 per ton. The highest average price achieved in 2020 was in July and August, which both averaged $137 per ton.

The highest prices for hay other than alfalfa were reported in Colorado ($215 per ton), Arizona ($190), and Pennsylvania ($185).

States with the lowest reported other hay average prices were North Dakota ($64 per ton), Nebraska ($76), and South Dakota ($78).