If the hay market was a hospital patient, the doctors and nurses would be on the run because the average price paid for hay has essentially flatlined. The February average price for alfalfa hay retreated to $200, which was only $2 per ton lower than the previous month. According to the USDA’s Agricultural Prices report, this was the tenth consecutive month of price decline since hitting a record-high average price of $287 per ton during April 2023. For the past four months, the average alfalfa hay price has only moved from $207 to $200 per ton.

The average price for Supreme and Premium alfalfa hay during February rose by $4 per ton and settled at $278.

Grass hay dropped by $1 per ton to $170 in February. The gap of $30 between the alfalfa and grass hay price is now the narrowest it’s been since February 2021.

Four states posted double-digit month-over-month gains in alfalfa price during February. Texas was up $15 per ton while California, Montana, and Utah were up $10 per ton.

Double-digit declines in the February alfalfa hay price occurred in eight states and were led by Pennsylvania, which was down $18 per ton from January. New York followed closely behind, down $17 per ton. Wisconsin was down $13 per ton while Minnesota and Oklahoma checked in down $12 and $11 per ton, respectively. Washington, South Dakota, and Colorado were each down $10 per ton.

The highest average February alfalfa hay price was reported in Texas at $283 per ton and was followed by New Mexico ($270) and California ($260).

North Dakota easily had the lowest alfalfa price at $120 per ton. It was followed by Minnesota at $154 per ton and South Dakota at $160.

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 February, the average price of Supreme and Premium alfalfa hay rose by $4 per ton to $278. It’s usually during this time of year when high-quality hay is in short supply. One year ago, the average price of Supreme and Premium alfalfa hay was $324 per ton.

Other hay

The February average price of other hay (mostly grass) dropped slightly to $170 per ton, which is the same price it’s been in three out of the past four months and is currently only $5 per ton lower than a year ago.

The highest February price for hay other than alfalfa was reported in Washington at $230 per ton. New Mexico and Oregon followed, both at $225 per ton.

North Dakota had the lowest reported other hay average price at $83 per ton. It was followed by Oklahoma at $106 per ton.