One of the challenges in coming up with a value for standing hay is the lack of daily price information like there is for grain crops.  Another challenge is accounting for the difference in quality and yield.

Nonetheless, pricing standing hay is a common question this time of year, so here is one example for those buying or selling standing hay in 2018.

Assuming a four (4.0) ton dry matter (DM) yield/acre for the entire year of dairy quality alfalfa hay ranging from $150 to $200/ton baled ($0.09 to $0.12/lb DM) with half the value going to the land owner for input costs (land, taxes, seed, chemical and fertilizer), and half the value credited to the buyer for harvesting, field loss and weather risk, standing value for this alfalfa field for the entire season would be $360 to $485/acre.  

Using a three cut (43% / 31% / 26%) or four cut (36% / 25% / 21% / 18%) harvest schedule, the following price range (rounded to the nearest $5) may offer a starting point for buyers and sellers to negotiate a sale of good quality standing alfalfa in 2018:

Three cuts: First crop — $ 155 - $210/a; second crop — $110 - $150/a; third crop — $95 - $110/a. 

Four cuts: First crop — $130 - $170/a; second crop — $90 - $120/a; third crop — $75 - $110/a; fourth crop— $40 - $65/a.

To help buyers and sellers better evaluate their own purchase or sale of standing hay, Greg Blonde, UW-Extension Agriculture Agent offers a free mobile app with easy access to current baled hay market information, and calculates standing value per acre for each cutting based on your own yield and harvest costs. The app can be downloaded on Android mobile devices through the Google Play store (search for Hay Pricing) or by going to:

Note, a new IOS (Apple) version of the standing Hay Pricing mobile app is also scheduled for release in May for iPhone and iPad users.

For more information, contact Blonde at

Top Headlines from Wisconsin Farmer:

Farmer’s hoping for better future as 2019 runs out.

2019: A season of rain and planting-harvesting delays.

Faith based winter markets helps farmers get through the slow season

Read or Share this story: