Alfalfa hits a record-high average price

By Mike Rankin, Managing Editor

In May 2014, the average price of alfalfa hay reached $227 per ton, which was a record-high price. That value was obliterated in April 2022, according to USDA’s Agricultural Prices report.

The average price of alfalfa during April soared to $243 per ton, a whopping $22 per ton higher than the previous month and $58 per ton above a year ago. To add perspective, the average price for alfalfa hay was below $130 per ton as recently as early 2017.

The average price for Supreme and Premium alfalfa hay rose more modestly by $2 per ton in April to $271, which followed gains the previous four months. The Supreme and Premium price stood at $60 per ton higher than it was in April 2021.

Eleven states issued double-digit gains in their average alfalfa hay price. These included Oklahoma, Arizona, Oregon, New Mexico, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, Idaho, California, and Nevada.

No state issued a double-digit hay price decline in April, and only two had even modest reductions (New York and Pennsylvania).

The highest average alfalfa hay price was reported in Arizona at $285 per ton. Oregon checked in at $275, while Montana and Utah both had an average price of $260 per ton.

The lowest 11 alfalfa average prices were found in Midwestern states. The cheapest alfalfa hay price was again reported in Wisconsin at $161 per ton. It was followed by Missouri ($165) and Iowa ($171).

Keep in mind that the 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 $2 per ton to $271. One year ago, the average price of Supreme and Premium alfalfa hay was $211 per ton.

Other hay
The April price of other hay (mostly grass) dropped by $4 per ton to $142, which was only $3 per ton above one year ago.

The highest prices for hay other than alfalfa were reported in Washington ($285 per ton), Oregon ($265), and Colorado ($225).

Oklahoma had the lowest reported other hay average price at $100 per ton. It was followed by Missouri, Nebraska, and Kansas, all at $110 per ton.