El Nino weather pattern improves 2014 hay outlook

Jun 6, 2014

Historically high prices in the hay markets are expected to continue for the fourth year in a row, with tight supplies and continued drought in parts of the U.S. But there is some hope that the expected El Niño weather pattern may offer some relief on the production end, and may return hay prices closer to a normal range. California remains the largest drought area, with no signs of improvement for the hay crop in the state.

The May 9 USDA-NASS Crop Production report indicates that U.S. hay stocks on farms on May 1, 2014, totaled 19.18 million tons, a 35-percent increase over the 2013 figure of 14.16. With December 1, 2013, stocks reported at 89.30 million tons, the implied December-

May disappearance is 70.13 million tons, up from the 62.39 million tons reported for the same period in 2012/13.

Increased year-to-year hay disappearance was encouraged by relatively more abundant hay supplies, estimated at 150.1 million tons in 2013/14 and up from 141.3 million in 2012/13, and lower prices: $179 per ton for 2013/14 compared to an average of $187 per ton for the 2012/13 marketing year.

The Prospective Plantings report indicates that producers intend to harvest nearly the same number of hay acres in 2014 as in 2013, approximately 58.3 million acres total. In combination with declines in livestock numbers, hay supplies available per RCAU (Roughage

Consuming Animal Units) are expected to rise in 2014/15. Increased hay supplies and a decline in the price of other animal feeds are likely to put downward pressure on hay prices through 2014.


California—Compared to the previous week, prices traded mostly steady to firm in most areas by May 30. Demand remained very good in all regions on active trading activity. The supply of hay in California is very tight as regions 2 through 6 are in full production. Region 1 is still about two to three weeks away from first cutting. All prices reported FOB at the stack or barn unless otherwise noted. Regions are defined at bottom of report.

Colorado—Compared to the previous week, hay movement was slow the week ending May 30, with steady prices and light buyer demand. According to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), regional snowpack levels are being reported as Yampa and White 167 percent, Colorado 200 percent, North Platte 191 percent, South Platte 244 percent, Arkansas 131 percent, Upper Rio Grande 32 percent, Gunnison 166 percent, and (San Miguel, Dolores, Animas, San Juan) 73 percent. Cutting has started in northeast and southeast Colorado this past week. Moisture is still lacking in the southeast. All prices reported FOB the stack or barn unless otherwise noted. Prices reflect load lots of hay.

Kansas—Hay trade was active, with movement slow to moderate on June 3. Demand was strong for dairy and grinding alfalfa, light to moderate for grass hay and alfalfa pellets. The drought continues across most of Kansas; rains were spotty. The first cutting is progressing well, quality is good, and yields are light. A lot of the dryland acres were not harvested. Shortages of all forages and roughages are developing. If you have hay for sale or pasture to rent or need hay or grazing, use the services of the Hay and Pasture Exchange: ww.kfb.org/ commodities/haypasture/in dex.html Texas—Compared to the previous week, hay prices were steady on all classes of hay by May 30 as new crop prices are still being established. Trade activity was moderate to good and demand was good. The Panhandle received some much needed rain over the long holiday weekend last week. Feedyards and dairies are still waiting for new crop prices to be established and hoping the rain will keep prices from climbing too high. Some supplemental feeding of livestock continues in areas that have been hit hard by the drought this year. South Texas and areas that have received enough rain are busy baling Coastal Bermuda hay and hope to get some new crop prices in the next couple weeks. Prices for hay and pellets are quoted per ton except where noted.

The Texas Department of Agriculture has a Hay and Grazing hotline set up for buyers and sellers looking for hay or grazing; the number is 877/429-1998. The website for the hotline is: www.TexasAgriculture.gov/hayhotline. — Traci Eatherton, WLJ Editor