Saudis buy more U.S. alfalfa farmland

Saudis buy more U.S. alfalfa farmland

In an apparent effort to save their own water, Saudi Arabia is buying farmland in the Southwest to grow alfalfa and ship it back to their country’s dairies. According to the CNBC report, the Saudis recently purchased 1,790 acres of farmland in Blythe, Calif., for nearly $32 million. Blythe is in an agricultural area that borders the Colorado River.

The Blythe-area purchase is not the first. A couple of years ago, 10,000 acres of farmland in Vicksburg, Ariz., were purchased by Almarai, a large Saudi food company. Again, alfalfa was the end game.

The Saudi purchases are in areas where water restrictions are comparatively low. In Vicksburg, there are virtually no regulations on groundwater use, according to the CNBC report. Likewise, in Blythe, the Colorado River provides ample “first rights” water resources.

As one might imagine, this trend is rubbing some people in the area the wrong way. Drought and water issues have plagued the region for several years. Some officials feel this business model is analogous to exporting an already limited supply of water. A public meeting was held last week to hear the concerns of residents.

Saudi-purchased land or not, a lot of alfalfa production in the region is grown for export to other countries. Apparently, the Saudis feel the safe play is to control the entire production system, ensuring a consistent supply of feed to their dairies.

December hay prices hold steady

December hay prices hold steady

In last week’s USDA Agricultural Prices report, December hay prices held about as firm as firm can get. The all-hay price held steady from November at $142 per ton while alfalfa hay did the same at $150 per ton (see table below). Hay other than alfalfa increased slightly from $127 to $129 per ton (data not shown).

The USDA price averages account for all qualities of hay sold and the final U.S. estimate is a volume-weighted average. In other words, it’s not a simple average of states. Those states with the most volume sales will impact the final U.S. dollar value more than those states with fewer sales.

The December alfalfa price is $30 per ton lower than one year ago. The largest month-to-month price movement among states included Michigan (minus $40), New York (plus $25), Pennsylvania (minus $22), Oregon (minus $20) and Oklahoma (plus $18).


The USDA average November price for alfalfa fell from $156 to $150 per ton.

The USDA average November price for alfalfa fell from $156 to $150 per ton. This is the lowest November price since 2010 and was $32 below the November 2014 value.

The USDA market price figures account for all qualities of alfalfa hay sold and are weighted based on volume. The lower month-to-month November price is not atypical; only once in the past 10 years did the November price exceed that of October.

The largest per ton price decline for alfalfa hay came from Colorado (-$20), Kansas (-$15), Minnesota (-$15), New York (-$13) and Ohio (-$10). There were some states that bucked the national trend. Those with higher November prices included: Idaho (+$20), Michigan (+$20), Oregon (+$15) and Oklahoma (+$12).

The November all-hay price movement was similar to alfalfa with a month-to-month price drop of $4 to $142 per ton.

Hay Supplies Ample In East Texas | Hay & Forage Grower

Hay Supplies Ample In East Texas

Rains boost production, bring early armyworms
Jul 15, 2014

An abundance of rain across East Texas helped producers make plenty of hay so far this season.

March and April were cooler than normal, while May and June brought significant moisture in his area, says Ross Kinney, a hay grower from Kilgore, about 120 miles east of Dallas.

“I have not irrigated at all this year. I haven’t turned my system on. Usually by the middle of June we have to start irrigating because it’s so darn dry.

“As a result, we’ve had a lot of hay produced in this area,” he adds. “A lot of hay got wet because it rained more often than it was supposed to, but people did really well overall.”

Prices remain relatively steady, according to Kinney. Small square bales are selling for $7-$8 each out of the field. Round bales, depending on quality, run anywhere from $65 to $70 each.

“People have been able to produce three or four round bales per acre because of the rain we’ve had,” he notes. “Right now in our part of the country there is more than an ample supply of hay. Somewhere out in West Texas, it is probably much drier and hay production is not doing so good.”

One downside to all the rain is a “tremendous bout of (fall) armyworms[1],” he says. Outbreaks typically follow bouts of rain, and the pests feed primarily on bermudagrss, wheat, ryegrass.

“It happened about a month to six weeks earlier than normal. It was absolutely due to the early rainfall.”

In parts of West Texas, where moisture has been at a premium, grasshoppers have been the problem, Kinney says.

He raises 200 acres of bermudagrass and markets most in 60- to 65-lb small squares to horse owners within 120 miles of his farm.

Want more stories like this?

Subscribe to eHay Weekly[2] and get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Alfalfa prices were $5-15/ton lower as many dairies backed off the market and changed feed rations, according to USDA’s July 11 market report. Prices for other classes of hay were steady to weak, and trade activity was light to moderate.

In the Panhandle and High Plains region, small square bales of premium- to supreme-quality alfalfa were $330-360/ton, or $10-11/bale. Large squares of premium- to supreme-quality alfalfa priced at $265-295/ton delivered. Large square bales of coastal bermudagrass sold for $202/ton delivered.

In the Far West and Trans Pecos region, small squares of premium-to-supreme alfalfa were at $280-360/ton, or $8.5-11/bale. Large squares bales of premium-to-supreme alfalfa sold for $245-280/ton.

In the north, central and eastern regions, small squares of premium-to-supreme alfalfa sold for $230/ton, or $7/bale. Good- to premium-quality coastal bermudagrass, in small squares, was $230-265/ton, or $7-8/bale. Large rounds of good-to-premium coastal bermuda priced at $120-150/ton.

In southern Texas, good- to premium-quality coastal bermudagrass sold for $230-265/ton, or $7-8/bale. Large rounds were $120-170/ton, or $60-$84/roll at good to premium quality. Fair- to good-quality bermudagrass hay was at $100/ton or $50/roll.

Contact Kinney at 903-522-0308 or[3].

Hay Prices Show Slight Decline In Much Of U.S. | Hay & Forage Grower

Hay Prices Show Slight Decline In Much Of U.S.

Drought-plagued states still pay more for hay
Jul 1, 2014

U.S. alfalfa-hay prices dropped by $2/ton and all-hay prices by $5/ton in June compared to the previous month’s totals, according to USDA’s Agricultural Prices[1] report released June 27.

The overall average U.S. alfalfa price declined slightly to $222/ton in June compared with the May $224/ton average. It was only a bit higher than the June 2013 price of $220/ton. The average June all-hay price was $197/ton, a decrease of $5/ton compared to May’s $202/ton figure. It averaged $2/ton less than the June 2013 per-ton price of $199.

A number of Western states paid even more for all hay last month than they did in May. Dry California’s average all-hay price for June was $264/ton, an $18 hike from its May level of $246/ton. From May to June, Washington all-hay prices jumped $26/ton to $225/ton, while Idaho prices leapt $25/ton to $218/ton. Oregon averaged a price increase of $12/ton to $220/ton and New Mexico increased $10/ton to $266/ton. Arizona’s June average was $240/ton, the same price as reported the previous month. Nevada’s all-hay price settled at $230/ton, a $5/ton drop since May.

The nation’s lowest all-hay prices were $89/ton in North Dakota, a drop of $11/ton from May’s average, and $90/ton in Missouri, a $24/ton drop from the previous month’s total. The average price in Kentucky dropped to $112/ton, down from $130/ton in May.

The highest average alfalfa prices in June were reported from California at $280/ton, New Mexico at $275/ton and Texas at $262/ton. The lowest alfalfa prices were found in North Dakota at $91/ton, Montana at $130/ton, Nebraska at $133/ton and South Dakota at $135/ton.

Washington saw the biggest hike in alfalfa prices for the month of June – jumping $30/ton – followed by Idaho, up by $25/ton. Both states averaged $220/ton June prices. Kansas June prices topped out at $212/ton, a $23/ton hike from the month-earlier average.

Minnesota reported the largest price drop in alfalfa prices, by $16/ton, for an average June price of $170/ton. Missouri alfalfa growers saw their average prices drop by $10/ton, to $180/ton.