Given that the record-high alfalfa price was set in April, any further northward movement in value sets a new high-water mark. In May, the market did just enough to push the alfalfa price up $1 per ton, according to USDA’s Agricultural Prices report.

The average price of alfalfa during May was $244 per ton, $50 per ton above a year ago. As mentioned last month, the average price for alfalfa hay was below $130 per ton as recently as early 2017. In most years, hay prices peak in either April or May (2021 being the exception).

The average price for Supreme and Premium alfalfa hay rose by $3 per ton in May to $274, which followed gains the previous five months. The Supreme and Premium price stood at $48 per ton higher than it was in May 2021.

Eight states issued double-digit gains in their average alfalfa hay price. Arizona led this group at plus $20 per ton. It was followed by three $15 gainers in Pennsylvania, New York, and Oklahoma while Washington, Idaho, New Mexico, and Iowa were all $10 higher.

Only two states had double-digit price reductions: North Dakota and Kentucky.

The highest average alfalfa hay price was reported in Arizona at $305 per ton. Oregon checked in at $270 while Washington recorded a $265 price. Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, and Utah were all at $260 per ton.

The lowest 11 alfalfa average prices were once again all from Midwestern states. Missouri had the lowest price at $165 per ton. It was followed by Wisconsin at $168.

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 May, the average price of Supreme and Premium alfalfa hay rose by $3 per ton to $274. One year ago, the average price of Supreme and Premium alfalfa hay was $226 per ton.

Other hay

Like alfalfa, the May average price of other hay (mostly grass) rose by $1 per ton to $143, which was only $3 per ton above one year ago.

The highest prices for hay other than alfalfa were reported in Washington ($290 per ton), Oregon ($270), and Colorado ($230).

Oklahoma had the lowest reported other hay average price at $100 per ton. It was followed by Nebraska and Kansas, both at $105 per ton.