Hay Prices to Continue Higher

July 11, 2011 08:15 PM

Source: Livestock Marketing Information Center

hay prices

USDA-NASS’s Monthly Agricultural Prices provide a snapshot at the national average weighted price for feedstuffs. On a national basis, since the beginning of the new hay year, May 1, alfalfa set record highs prices in both May and June. In June, the national hay price for alfalfa was $180 per ton, 51% above a year ago. Other hay came in at $113 per ton, 14% higher than June 2010.  The resulting national all hay average price settled at $163 per ton, a 43% year-over-year gain.  With the results of the USDA-NASS June Acreage report (released June 30th) it looks like high hay prices will continue.

The June U.S. acreage report shook many markets driven by corn, by producing much larger plantings than expected.  Expectations that hay acres in several states were shifting to other crops were confirmed by the Acreage report both in greater grain crop acres, and even less hay acres to be harvested than expected.  Shortening acreage and inclement first cutting weather has dropped production, especially of alfalfa.  LMIC forecasts for hay were revised with respect to yield and harvested acres to reflect recent developments.  The short supply of hay early will likely bolster prices well into summer.  Season average price has been substantially raised to reflect these conditions and capture both regional calamities (e.g. drought in Texas) and abundance in some regional hay markets. 

For this crop-year, the national all hay average price is now set to be about $145 per ton, mostly reflecting very high alfalfa hay prices.  LMIC’s forecast of the national other hay price, remained unchanged.  It is expected that the gap between other and alfalfa hay will widen this year as it has in other record high alfalfa price years.  The U.S. alfalfa season average price has been increased to $162 per ton, nearly record high and up 35% to 40% compared to a year ago.  Nationally, the record high alfalfa hay price was set in 2008/2009 at $165 per ton.

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