Top-quality alfalfa hay is running between $150 to $160 per ton, says Rick Staas, general manager of the San Joaquin Valley Hay Growers Association in Tracy, Calif.

Prices are about $20 per ton higher than the same time a year ago. However, these high prices are occurring at a time when hay prices usually hit a mid-summer low.

A low hay supply is partially to blame for the increase in hay prices. Staas cites several factors for the low supply:

  • Alfalfa prices have been relatively low in recent years and planted acreage has been flat.
  • Drought conditions are hitting much of the West.
  • In order to protect endangered species, the Klamath Basin has been closed to area irrigators.
  • Several utility companies have established programs that pay producers to not irrigate their crops.

Staas looks for hay prices to remain strong and perhaps rise through this year and early next year.