Hay prices down slightly from a year ago

By Hay and Forage Grower

The average U.S. price for both alfalfa and hay other than alfalfa ended the year $4 per ton below December 2018.

The latest USDA Agricultural Prices report pegged alfalfa at $175 per ton, which was $2 per ton higher than the previous month.

During 2019, the average price for alfalfa hay peaked in May at $204 per ton and hit a low of $173 in November.

Significant alfalfa hay price gainers in December were led by Wisconsin, up $16 per ton, and Ohio, up $15 per ton. Other notable gainers included Kansas (up $11) and Oklahoma (up $10).

Price decliners were led by New York (down $9 per ton) and Minnesota (down $8).

The highest average alfalfa hay prices were reported in Wisconsin ($242 per ton), Colorado ($230 per ton), and Pennsylvania ($228).

The lowest prices were posted in North Dakota ($87 per ton), South Dakota ($114), and Nebraska ($114).

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 also tracks the prices of Premium and Supreme quality alfalfa 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 Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program.

For December, the average price of Premium and Supreme alfalfa hay dropped by $9 from November to $200 per ton, which marked the lowest price of the year. The 2019 peak for Premium and Supreme quality alfalfa occurred in February at $225 per ton.

Other hay

The December average price of other hay (mostly grass hay) declined by $4 per ton from the previous month to $133, which was $13 per ton below one year ago. During May, it had reached a 2019 peak of $152 per ton.

The highest prices for hay other than alfalfa were reported in Colorado ($220 per ton), Oregon ($200), and Arizona ($200).

States with the lowest reported other hay average prices included North Dakota ($66 per ton), Oklahoma ($87), South Dakota ($92), and Nebraska ($94).