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The wild, wild Western hay markets

Josh Callen compared the Western hay market during the past couple of years to experiencing a case of whiplash. The author of the The Hoyt Report offered his annual analysis of Western hay markets to the crowd of attendees at the Western Alfalfa & Forage Symposium last week in Sparks, Nev.

Callen noted that a perfect storm of events in 2022 led to a record-high year for hay prices. Then, this year, we got almost the perfect storm of events that led to a drastic market price demise. For example, the market analyst cited the average 2023 price for delivered hay to Tulare and Hanford, Calif., dairies was down about $60 per ton from last year while the price for lower-quality grades was off by about $120 per ton.

The perfect storm to bring hay prices down in 2023 included the downturn in hay exports caused by the high price of hay coming into the year coupled with a strong dollar. “This really killed the export market,” Callen said. “In the Pacific Northwest and Imperial Valley, where exports comprise a primary market, this had a big impact on prices compared to the previous year. Grass straw also saw a big correction in price, where some harvesters were only getting their baling costs out of it.”

Dec. 19, 2023 08:00 AM

By Mike Rankin



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