Down we go again

By Hay and Forage Grower

The average hay price for alfalfa fell another $14 per ton for August, which followed a $19 decline in July and a $16 per ton drop during June, according to the USDA’s Agricultural Prices report. The average alfalfa hay price settled at $230 per ton, putting it $46 per ton lower than one year ago.

The average price for Supreme and Premium alfalfa hay during August was $6 per ton lower than July and settled at $282.

Grass hay was pegged at $161 per ton in August, which was $7 lower than the previous month.

For the third consecutive month, no state posted double-digit gains in alfalfa price.

Double-digit declines in the August alfalfa hay price occurred in 13 of the 27 reported states. Arizona was down by $30 per ton for the second straight month while Oklahoma was down $25. California, Montana, and Nevada dropped by $20 per ton.

The highest average August alfalfa hay price was reported in New Mexico at $295 per ton. Oregon followed at $285 while Washington checked in at $280 per ton. August was the first time in many months that no state averaged at least $300 per ton.

Midwest states continue to offer the lowest average hay prices. North Dakota was easily the lowest at $128 per ton. It was followed by Wisconsin at $144 per ton and South Dakota at $166.

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 August, the average price of Supreme and Premium alfalfa hay dropped by $6 per ton to $282. One year ago, the average price of Supreme and Premium alfalfa hay was $343 per ton.

Other hay

The August average price of other hay (mostly grass) fell by $7 per ton to $161, which was $25 per ton lower than a year earlier.

The highest August price for hay other than alfalfa was reported in Washington at $265 per ton. Oregon and Colorado followed at $260 per ton.

Oklahoma had the lowest reported other hay average price at $94 per ton. It was followed by North Dakota at $95 and Wisconsin at $100.