By Dan Martens, Extension Educator, Stearns-Benton-Morrison Counties
This information is from the Sauk Centre Hay Auction held on September 2, 2010.
Click on the link SC Hay Auction 09 02 10.pdf for a list of all tested lots sold and bedding materials sold. The lots are grouped by kind of hay, type of bale, in groups by 25 RFV points. The last page of the report is a history of selected groups with averages and ranges from previous years along with corresponding September 2, 2010 information.
1. A couple of market observations
2. Other hay market information resources
3. Basic info about the Sauk Centre Auction
1. A couple of market observations
I suggest considering the first 3-4 hay auctions of the season with some thoughtful care. Sometimes buyers and/or sellers are busy with harvest and other tasks in the fall. The prices at the September 2 auction appear to be some of the lowest we have seen for a while. I try not to take the role of market analyst. I'll offer a couple comments here primarily for the purpose of encouraging people to keep their own brain plugged in - along with their calculator. You're brain is as good as mine ... and you have the best handle on what's important to you.
I was not at the September 2 auction. I did stop at the auction site on Wednesday the day before. At that time there were 20 or so loads on site. One load had a fresh green color. The other loads had a weathered brown color. Bales that have been in the sun can have a weathered brown color on the outside and still be pretty good hay on the inside sometimes. It might be that the few loads that sold for $125-130 were nice looking loads that also tested well and it might be that many of the $40-60 loads looked "weathered." Hay can take a little rain and still be a useful feed product.
With the rain we had during this summer, we know a lot of hay was harvested, and we know it was difficult to put up hay between showers on many occasions. The market could have a strong preference for hay that looks and smells nice, seems palatable and tests well.
We also know dairy producers continue to work with pretty tight budgets.
The theory is that ultimately buyers decide what they can afford - or are willing to pay; and sellers decide what they are willing to let their products go for.
2. Other Market Information
One of the sources of hay market information I go to the most is USDA reports posted at http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/LSMNpubs
Select "Hay" in the middle of the page.
One of the sites I like to look at on the next list is the "SD East River Market Weekly Review." This is based on a USDA Ag Stats staff phone survey of hay growers and hay buyers in eastern South Dakota. It is rooted in the eastern SD dairy area. Be sure to pay attention to the quality standards listed for the descriptive terms USDA uses for alfalfa: premium, supreme, good, fair, low ... and grass grades base on protein content.
3. Basic Information about the Sauk Centre Hay Auction
The Sauk Centre Hay Auction is conducted by Mid American Auction Co. auctioneers Al Wessel ph 320-760-2979 and Kevin Winter ph 320-760-1593. The auction is held on the first and third Thursday of each month from September through May. From the intersection of I94 and US Highway 71 go about 1/2 mile south on Hwy 71 just past Modern Farm Equipment and then east about 1/10th of a mile. It is easy to see at that point.
Loads should be on the lot by 10:30 a.m. to allow time for sampling on site and testing at the Stearns DHIA lab.
This auction was started originally by the Central Minnesota Forage Council. The council is not associated with the auction now, but continues to take an interest how things are going with the auction as a resource for buyers and sellers in central Minnesota.