It’s back up the price ladder for alfalfa

By Hay and Forage Grower

Alfalfa average hay prices for September bucked its previous three-month downward trend to climb by $2 per ton.

The latest USDA Agricultural Prices report pegged alfalfa at $181 per ton, which was also $2 per ton above one year ago. The average price for alfalfa hay still stands at $23 per ton below its 2019 high of $204 during May.

Only Oklahoma had a significant alfalfa price gain (plus $45 per ton) for September, although many states had small price increases.

Price decliners were less numerous and led by New York (down $27 per ton) and New Mexico (down $10).

The highest average alfalfa hay prices were reported in Colorado ($235 per ton), New Mexico ($220), and Kentucky ($210).

The lowest prices were posted in North Dakota ($90 per ton), South Dakota ($108), and Nebraska ($110).

Keep in mind that the USDA average prices account for all qualities 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.

The USDA now tracks the prices of Premium and Supreme quality hay in the major dairy states and determines an average price from the five leading milk-producing states. This data is being used to determine feed prices in the new Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program.

For September, the average price of Premium and Supreme alfalfa hay dropped by $4 from August to $204 per ton. Only Michigan and Texas posted higher prices for Premium and Supreme alfalfa hay. For unknown reasons, New York’s average price dropped by $46 per ton to $200.

Other hay

The September average price of other hay (mostly grass hay) dropped to $120 per ton. This value is $7 per ton lower than the previous month and $15 per ton below one year ago. It was the fourth consecutive month that the other hay price dropped compared to the previous month. In May, it had reached a peak of $152 per ton.

The highest prices for hay other than alfalfa were reported in Colorado ($230 per ton), Arizona ($200), New Mexico ($180), and Oregon ($180).

States with the lowest reported other hay average prices included North Dakota ($67 per ton), South Dakota ($74), and Minnesota ($86).