Alfalfa up $17 in April

By Mike Rankin

The all-hay and alfalfa hay price averages both moved significantly higher during April based on USDA’s most recent Agricultural Prices report released last week. The all-hay price hit $162 per ton, up $14 per ton from the previous month and $19 higher than April 2017. Hay other than alfalfa moved $1 per ton higher to $124, which is still $7 per ton lower than April 2017.

As was the case last month, the market strength for hay is coming from alfalfa. The month-to-month average alfalfa price was up $17 per ton in April to $183 per ton, which is $33 per ton more than one year ago. The alfalfa hay price has moved up $35 per ton since December and the current monthly average price is the highest it’s been since May 2015. As a general rule, annual alfalfa prices peak during April or May. The 2017 peak was in May at $155 per ton, well below the current level.

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.

The largest alfalfa price gainers in April were Michigan (up $40 per ton), drought-stricken Oklahoma (up $38), Wisconsin (up $30), Minnesota (up $26), and Ohio (up $20). All statewide price declines were $5 per ton or less.

The highest alfalfa hay prices were reported from Kentucky ($215 per ton), Texas ($211), Arizona ($210), New Mexico ($210), Ohio ($210), and California ($205).

The lowest prices were found in North Dakota ($110 per ton), Nebraska ($110), and South Dakota ($119).