Seth Hoyt
Author of The Hoyt Report, providing hay market analysis and insight.

I grew up on a beef cattle ranch in North Central California, and while we put up hay, it was nothing of the magnitude of many hay growers in the West today. Part of my family settled in the Burns, Ore., area where they did farm a large amount of alfalfa hay. I can recall visiting in the 1980s during hay season. My brothers had contracted a large amount of alfalfa hay at a good price to a dairy hay buyer, but it could not be rained on. I remember the week we were there that the alfalfa hay was in the windrow, and when the clouds appeared my brother Steve was like a “cat on a hot tin roof.” The hay got rained on, and the good price for the contract hay meant nothing.

Steve left the farm a few years later and recently retired as a pilot with Horizon/Alaska Airlines. This past week there was a large amount of timothy hay in the windrow in the Columbia Basin in Washington that was rained on when the forecast was for clear weather at the time of cutting. The timothy hay market on Premium dairy quality for export is at or near record highs, and overnight the value dropped significantly because of rain. While farming has more risks than other professions, in my book the risks for growing hay are right up there.