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One of the challenges in coming up with a value for standing hay is the lack of daily price information like we have 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’s one example when buying or selling standing hay in 2019.

Assuming a four (4.0) ton dry matter (DM) yield/acre for the entire year of dairy quality alfalfa hay ranging from $200 to $250/ton baled ($0.11 to $0.14/lb DM) with half the value going to the land owner for input costs (land, taxes, seed, lime 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 could range from $400 to $700/acre. 

Using a three cut (40% / 30% / 30%) or four cut (35% / 25% / 20% / 20%) harvest schedule, the following price range (rounded to the nearest $5) may offer a starting point for buyers and sellers negotiating the purchase or sale of good quality standing alfalfa in 2019:

                   4 cuts                    3 cuts

1st crop—$155-245/a             $ 175-280/a
2ndcrop—$110-175/a             $  130-210/a
3rd crop—$90-140/a               $  130-210/a
4th crop—$90-140/a

To help buyers and sellers better evaluate their own purchase or sale of standing hay, Greg Blonde, UW-Extension Agriculture Agent suggests his 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 is free and can be downloaded on both Android and Apple mobile devices through the Google Play or Apple Store (search for Hay Pricing).  A short on-line YouTube step-by-step tutorial video for running the mobile app is also available at: https://youtu.be/Gv9bNoq4NJQ.

For more information, email greg.blonde@wisc.edu.

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