January hay prices were all stronger

By Mike Rankin

The average price of U.S. alfalfa hay in January edged up $2 per ton, following a previous $2 per ton bump in December. The $171 per ton January price was $2 per ton above one year ago. Supreme and Premium alfalfa hay prices improved by $3 per ton to $206.

The latest USDA Agricultural Prices report pegged other hay (mostly grass) at $137 per ton, $3 higher than the previous month and equal to last year’s January price.

Three states registered double-digit, month-over-month alfalfa price gains in January. These were North Dakota and Pennsylvania, both up $11 per ton, and Ohio, up $10 per ton.

Only two states had double-digit alfalfa price declines for January, and those were Wisconsin (down $17) and Oklahoma (down $16).

The highest average alfalfa hay prices were reported in Pennsylvania ($276 per ton), New Mexico ($225), Kentucky ($215), and Texas ($214).

The lowest prices were posted in North Dakota ($98 per ton) and South Dakota ($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.

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 used to determine feed prices in the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program.

For January, the average price of Supreme and Premium alfalfa hay moved higher by $3 per ton to $206. This occurred despite the fact that none of the determining states reported hay prices that were higher than the previous month. One year ago, the average price of Supreme and Premium alfalfa hay was $210 per ton.

Other hay

The January average price of other hay averaged $137 per ton, which matched the highest monthly average price achieved in all of 2020.

The highest prices for hay other than alfalfa were reported in Colorado ($225 per ton), Arizona ($190), and Pennsylvania ($187).

States with the lowest reported other hay average prices were North Dakota ($71 per ton), South Dakota ($76), and Minnesota ($81).