The average hay price for both alfalfa and grass dropped in January, according to USDA’s Agricultural Prices report. Alfalfa posted its lowest average monthly price since June 2022.

The average price of alfalfa during January was pegged at $263 per ton, down $6 from December but still $48 per ton above a year ago.

Only Washington issued a double-digit gain in their average alfalfa hay price from December to January, and that was only by $10 per ton.

Double-digit declines in the January alfalfa hay price occurred in three states. Nevada was down $15 per ton while Minnesota dropped $11 per ton. California was down $10.

The highest average alfalfa hay price was reported in California at $360 per ton. Arizona followed at $355 while Washington checked in at $335 per ton.

Midwest states accounted for the lowest 10 average hay prices. North Dakota was easily the lowest at $110 per ton. It was followed by Wisconsin and Minnesota, both at $163.

Keep in mind that 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 January, the average price of Supreme and Premium alfalfa hay rose by a modest $1 per ton to $328. One year ago, the average price of Supreme and Premium alfalfa hay was $273 per ton.

Other hay

The January average price of other hay (mostly grass) dropped by $2 per ton to $175, which was $22 per ton higher than a year earlier.

The highest January price for hay other than alfalfa was reported in California ($310 per ton). Washington followed at $280 per ton while both Oregon and Nevada posted a $260 price.

North Dakota had the lowest reported other hay average price at $87 per ton. It was followed by Illinois at $115 and Wisconsin at $116.