A moderate average price gain for alfalfa in December snubbed the previous month’s downturn. For hay other than alfalfa, the average price dropped by $5 per ton, according to USDA’s Agricultural Prices report.

The average price of alfalfa during December was pegged at $269 per ton, up $2 from November and $52 per ton above a year ago.

Seven states issued double-digit gains in their average alfalfa hay price from November to December. California led this group with a $20 per ton gain. It was followed by New York and Pennsylvania, both were up $13 per ton. The quartet of Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, and Oklahoma all gained $10 per ton.

Double-digit declines in the December alfalfa hay price occurred in three states. Wisconsin was down $15 per ton while Minnesota dropped $13 per ton. Nevada was down $10.

The highest average alfalfa hay price was reported in California at $370 per ton. Arizona followed at $350 while Washington and Oregon posted at $325 per ton.

Midwest states accounted for the lowest 10 average hay prices. North Dakota was easily the lowest at $118 per ton. It was followed by Wisconsin ($168), Missouri ($170), and Minnesota ($174).

Keep in mind that the USDA average prices account for all qualities and bale types 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 top milk-producing states (California, Idaho, New York, Texas, and Wisconsin). This data is used to determine feed prices in the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program.

For December, the average price of Supreme and Premium alfalfa hay dropped by $4 per ton to $327. One year ago, the average price of Supreme and Premium alfalfa hay was $260 per ton.

Other hay

The December average price of other hay (mostly grass) dropped by $5 per ton to $177, which is $22 per ton higher than one year ago.

The highest November prices for hay other than alfalfa were reported in California ($300 per ton). Nevada and Washington followed, both at $280 per ton.

North Dakota had the lowest reported other hay average price at $83 per ton. It was followed by Wisconsin at $115.