All-hay and alfalfa December hay price averages were modestly lower in USDA’s most recent Agricultural Prices report released last week. The all-hay price was $126 per ton, down $2 per ton from the previous month and $13 lower than December 2015. Hay other than alfalfa posted a $3 per ton decline from $123 to $120 per ton, $4 per ton below December 2015.
The month-to-month alfalfa price dropped by $1 to $129 per ton, which is $20 per ton less than one year ago and will set the 2016 monthly low. The December price matches February 2011, which was the last time the average hay price was $129 or below.
The USDA price averages account for all qualities of hay sold and 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.
For alfalfa, New York was the largest price gainer at $10 per ton. Oregon posted the largest decline at minus $15 per ton.
The highest alfalfa hay prices are being reported from New York ($221 per ton), Kentucky ($220 per ton), and Pennsylvania ($199 per ton). The lowest prices can be found in Nebraska ($79 per ton), North Dakota ($80 per ton), and South Dakota ($92 per ton).
For 2016, the U.S. alfalfa average hay price started the year at $141 per ton, reached a peak of $154 per ton in May, then declined to the current low.