The average price for alfalfa hay jumped by $20 from March to April, according to the USDA’s Agricultural Prices report.
“The magnitude of this jump was the result of a high volume of hay being sold in Arizona during April,” said Michelle Harder of USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. “Because we figure prices on a weighted average, this sort of thing can happen when a high-priced state sells a lot of hay, even though their actual price declined slightly for the month.”
Looking back at 2022, the average price of alfalfa hay jumped by nearly $30 per ton from March to April. The 2023 April price set a new record high for any monthly average alfalfa hay price. The previous high price was set in October 2022.
Without Arizona in the equation, the price for Supreme and Premium alfalfa hay in April rose by only $1 per ton from March to $315.
The average price for grass hay during April was pegged at $167 per ton, dropping for the fifth consecutive month.
Double-digit gains in alfalfa price were realized in only two states during April. Both New York and Pennsylvania were up by $12 per ton.
Double-digit declines in April alfalfa hay price occurred in three states. California and Nevada both dropped by $20 per ton while Oregon was down $10.
The highest average alfalfa hay price was reported in Arizona at $345 per ton. Washington followed at $330 while Oregon and New Mexico checked in at $315 per ton.
Midwest states continue to account for the cheapest average hay prices. North Dakota was easily the lowest at $127 per ton. It was followed by Wisconsin at $160 per ton and Missouri at $165.
Keep in mind that USDA average prices account for all qualities and bale types 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 top milk-producing states (California, Idaho, New York, Texas, and Wisconsin). This data is used to determine feed prices in the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program.
For April, the average price of Supreme and Premium alfalfa hay rose by $1 per ton to $315. One year ago, the average price of Supreme and Premium alfalfa hay was $318 per ton.
The April average price of other hay (mostly grass) dropped by $4 per ton to $167, which was $15 per ton higher than a year earlier.
The highest April price for hay other than alfalfa was reported in Washington ($280 per ton). Colorado followed at $265 per ton while Oregon posted a $255 price.
North Dakota had the lowest reported other hay average price at $99 per ton. It was followed by Wisconsin at $110 and Oklahoma at $114.