Finding Higher Profits in Cash Hay Opportunities

Finding Higher Profits in Cash Hay Opportunities

August 22, 2008

Persistent spring rain, potato leafhoppers, fewer acres, and winter injury are making good quality hay scarce everywhere.

Throughout much of the alfalfa growing region, including Nebraska, cool temperatures and persistent rains greatly reduced dairy quality hay production during first cutting this spring. This region also lost alfalfa acres, some due to winter injury but most due to conversion to annual row crops.

This is good news - at least for hay growers. The market for high quality alfalfa is looking extra strong this year.

If you have more hay to harvest this year, how about harvesting some to sell to high paying customers. Hay cut in September and October usually is the best quality hay of the year. This month's cooler temperatures, especially at night, will increase the chance that dairy quality hay is possible at next cutting.

If you put up this hay correctly, it could bring $150/ton, maybe even more. It will need to be baled without rain damage in heavy, square, transportable packages with most of the leaves intact and stored under cover to prevent weather damage. But isn't it worth it to try and capitalize on these high prices instead of accepting $60-$80/ton.

Even if your original plan was to feed the hay to your own animals, sell yours for $150 and buy some other perfectly acceptable hay back for $80. Take advantage of good prices when you can. It doesn't happen every day.

Bruce Anderson
Extension Forage Specialist