October hay prices mixed

By Hay and Forage Grower

All-hay and alfalfa October average went opposite directions in USDA’s most recent Agricultural Prices report released last week. The all-hay price was $131 per ton, up $2 per ton from the previous month but $12 lower than October 2015. The all-hay price was fueled by a $7 per ton jump in the other-hay price (hay other than alfalfa) from $114 to $121 per ton.

By contrast, the month-to-month alfalfa price dropped by $2 to $135 per ton, which is $20 per ton less than one year ago and sets a new year-to-date low that was previously $137 per ton set in February and September. Prior to February, the last time that the monthly average price was at $135 or below was February 2011 when the average was $129 per ton.

The USDA price averages account for all qualities of hay sold and 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.

Wisconsin was the largest price gainer at $29 per ton. It was followed by Minnesota and New York, both up $21 per ton.

New Mexico had the largest price decline, a modest $5 per ton.

The highest alfalfa hay prices are being reported from Kentucky ($225 per ton), New York ($209 per ton), and Pennsylvania ($200 per ton). The lowest prices can be found in North Dakota ($79 per ton), Nebraska ($82 per ton), and South Dakota ($87 per ton).

For 2016, the U.S. alfalfa average hay price started the year at $141 per ton, reached a peak of $154 per ton in May, then declined to current levels through summer and fall.