Slow hay markets estimated to remain steady with current US weather conditionsWritten by Natasha Wheeler
“The hay market has been pretty soft,” comments Barry McRea of Valley Video Hay Markets in Torrington. “It doesn’t look like there will be much change in the near future.”
Unless Mother Nature intervenes, he predicts that prices will remain steady.
“The only thing that would change the prices would be a drought, but at this point, we can’t tell,” he says.
Some areas of Oklahoma and Kansas are starting to look dry, according to the U.S. drought monitor, but it is still too early in the season to know how the weather will affect the market.
“The balance of inventory is mostly feeder hay but there isn’t much demand for it,” he adds.
Any producers who still have extra hay may have to wait until next season for it to sell.
“There is always good demand for premium hay, but there isn’t much of that left,” McRea continues.
Open market and new crop hay will likely be sent toward Texas or the Midwest, to states such as Iowa, Indiana and Illinois.
“This year, the bulk of our premium hay went to Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin,” notes McRea.
Hay is often shipped to Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, and there is also usually a strong demand in New Mexico, although there wasn’t as much demand in that part of the country this past year.
“We always send some to Colorado,” he adds.
Some areas of the United States are more deficient than others from year to year, depending on conditions.
“Generally, people looking for feeder or ranch hay purchase from local markets,” explains McRea, although his business caters to buyers across the country. “If there is a drought area, for example in Texas or Kansas, we can serve those areas with our internet auction.”
Valley Video Hay Auctions holds a sale once every two weeks throughout the summer and fall.
“People can use the internet to see our hay bi-weekly all year, without having to come through town,” he adds.
For McRea, this is an advantage over representatives or brokers who can only visit specific parts of the country once or twice a year.
“We offer hay backed by the reputation of our growers,” he comments.
As spring approaches, McRea talks to his customers across the country to find out about conditions throughout the U.S.
“This time of year, we are touching base with our previous customers to see where demand is,” he explains.
McRea’s inventory comes mainly from western Nebraska and eastern Wyoming. He also sells hay in the Riverton area.
“Our hay is premium hay because of our drier climate with less humidity,” he explains.
Many areas in the eastern U.S. have trouble putting up high-quality hay because of the challenges associated with high moisture content in the air.
“With the news we have today, prices don’t look like they will vary much from last year,” says McRea.
However, he warns that conditions can transition quickly. Humidity and rainfall can affect the conditions of the market in a short period of time.
“Rain or no rain in different parts of the country can change conditions fast,” McRea states. “Within a matter of weeks, things can change drastically.”