This year has seen climbing high prices reflecting lower hay acres both here in Oregon, as well as all over the country.  Farmers saw an oppurtunity in wheat, and many plowed their hay under.  Concicuently, we have seen horse hay soar as high as $250 a ton here in Central Oregon,  and much higher in other parts of the country.  What will it take to bring prices down under $200 a ton?

Well good news can be seen in the commodity markets.  Wheat prices have been plunging for about 3 weeks now, and Soft White Wheat delivered to Mid-Columbia producers is down to $6.28 a bushel, down over $2.00 from the highs last winter.  Now the market has seen swings like this one all Summer, but never has it dropped this low, and unless it bounces back, farmers here in Oregon with irrigated land will probobly look back into the hay market and start planting grass again.  However there is still plenty of time for the price to come back up before farmers plant their hay ground next spring. 

Another thing that will delay a price drop in hay is that most areas in Oregon only get one good cutting of grass the first year the stand is planted.  Many farmers plant a cover crop such as oat hay, which they harvest off in June or July.  This will mean that it will take awhile for new seeding grass hay to hit the market, but cattlemen who feed oat hay will probobly enjoy cheaper feeder hay next year.

Wheat prices are just on factor that affects hay prices, but when farmers like me are deciding next years crop and see much lower wheat prices, hay will look more attractive.

Note: You can follow the wheat contracted price here.