Attention horse owners: discounted hay is a thing of the past.  I have been doing quite a bit of talking to other growers and doing some market research and the discounted first cutting is pretty much sold out in the area. Now by discounted hay, I mean hay grown by hobby farmers and marketed for less than the going rate to move the hay quickly.  This price undercutting happens every year in Central Oregon and normally means cheaper deals can be found clear until the end of September.  However this year has been so cold and hay has been moving so fast that the undercutters have moved their product and now the large commercial growers have the inventory until next year. 

What about second cutting?  The growers that only go for two cuttings  will be dropping hay pretty soon, but I think that and discounted hay that is not already accounted for will be moved so fast that it will hardly be notice in the main-stream market.  I talked to a number of hobby farmers and many have their neighbors lined up at the door for their hay, and they won’t be advertising it. 

So what does all this mean to the hay customers that buy hay in Central Oregon?  If you are reading this and know of horse quality orchard grass for less than  $220 a ton, stop reading and call up that grower and buy all you need for this winter. Seriously.  STOP READING.  Because I have a feeling that a market correction is going to happen to account for the high prices of dairy alfalfa.  Right now, premium alfalfa is getting moved for $220 a ton and higher in big bales. Usually alfalfa, especially in big bales is priced about $20-$30 a ton less than orchard grass in small bales because of the less input costs.  But right now dairies can’t find enough alfalfa and its shooting the price right up.  Also exports of hay has been pretty steady so there is a great demand for hay.  The fact that orchard grass is at par with alfalfa big bales is an unusual thing and cannot stay for long.  The market will have to correct itself and because of the great demand, it must mean higher prices for orchard grass.

Now there is still time to shop for hay.  Drive around and look for hay that is down and try to talk to the farmer and lock in your order.  This is the best way to get the best price, plus you can look at the hay in the windrow and get a good feel for the quality before it is baled.  Like I said earlier.  Anything that is under $220 a ton is a bargain, snatch it while you can.