Quality of new crop alfalfa hay is disappointing

By Seth Hoyt

Seth Hoyt

Author of The Hoyt Report, providing hay market analysis and insight.

Speculation from growers is that the warmer than normal February caused alfalfa hay to grow faster than normal. Combined with the lack of below freezing temperatures this past winter are possible reasons why early quality of new crop alfalfa hay in Kern County has been mediocre. The best quality test reported last week was 55 TDN (total digestible nutrients) based on a 90 percent dry matter California test. One grower in Kern County who had a 54 TDN test (equivalent to 165 RFV) said he doesn’t think he will get higher testing alfalfa hay until second cutting. While early demand for new crop dairy alfalfa hay is below normal in central California, better quality hay is still in the highest demand; but even the small amount of Premium quality alfalfa hay that traded in Kern County last week brought $208 per ton FOB-stack, around $40 per ton below the first sales last year.