Alfalfa drops $4; Supreme/Premium up $6

By Mike Rankin

The average price of U.S. alfalfa hay in November was pegged at $167 per ton, $4 per ton lower than October and $2 per ton below one year ago. The latest USDA Agricultural Prices report pegged other hay (mostly grass) at $136 per ton, $4 higher than the previous month and $4 below last year’s November price.

The November price marked the first time that the average alfalfa price has dipped below $170 per ton since March 2018. The high-water mark for 2020 occurred in April when the price averaged $181 per ton.

Four states registered a double-digit month-over-month price improvement, led by Wisconsin at $26 per ton higher. Texas was $11 per ton higher, followed by Idaho and Utah, which were both $10 per ton above October.

Only one state had a double-digit alfalfa price decline for November, and that was Colorado at $10 per ton lower.

The highest average alfalfa hay prices were reported in Pennsylvania ($250 per ton), New Mexico ($225), Kentucky ($215), Oregon ($210), and Texas ($204).

The lowest prices were posted in North Dakota ($80 per ton), Nebraska ($107), and South Dakota ($117).

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.

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 leading milk-producing states. This data is being used to determine feed prices in the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program.

For November, the average price of Supreme and Premium alfalfa hay moved higher by $6 per ton to $200. One year ago, the average price of Supreme and Premium alfalfa hay was $209 per ton.

Other hay

The November average price of other hay averaged $136 per ton. The highest average price achieved in 2020 was in July and August, which both averaged $137 per ton.

The highest prices for hay other than alfalfa were reported in Colorado ($205 per ton), Washington ($190), and Pennsylvania ($185).

States with the lowest reported other hay average prices were North Dakota ($68 per ton), South Dakota ($82), and Nebraska ($82).