by Dan Martens, U of M Extension Educator in Stearns-Benton-Morrison Counties
This information is from the Sauk Centre Hay Auction held on April 5, 2012. It is based on information provided by Stearns DHIA Lab and the Mid-American Auction Company.
April 5 2012 SC Hay Auction.pdf ... A summary of all tested hay lots and bedding materials sold... grouped by kind of hay, type of bale and 25 RFV points... cost per pound of dry matter and per RFV point are calculated.
History of Selected Lots 2011 2012.pdf... A summary of hay auctions held this year showing Medium Square Alfalfa 101-200 RFV divided in 25 RFV groups, and medium sq. straw.
Graph SC Hay Auction 2001-2012.pdf.. A line graph of these auctions from 2001 to 2012. For the Feb 16 auction, the 176-200 RFV group is just one load - so not really an average.
The next auction at Sauk Centre will be held on Thursday April 19.
Read more for some comments on Other hay market info, Alfalfa and frost, Alfalfa harvest alert scissors cut project, Pricing standing hay, Summer tours, Safety, Useful forage websites.
More Hay Market Info
USDA Hay Market Report at
Upper Midwest Weekly Hay Market Report by Ken Barnett - UWEX
Alfalfa and Frost
From what I'm seeing and hearing, the cold weather last Tuesday and Wednesday did not cause significant damage to alfalfa. In a couple of fields I looked at each day last week, I could find a stem here and there that was drooped over and turning black, easily less than 1% of all stems, maybe less than a half %.
One guess is that the ground was warm enough to mitigate colder air temperatures with a crop that was short enough to be pretty close to the ground yet. Another guess is that fresh growth was loaded up with some sugars or other carbohydrates that provides some antifreeze value also. With normal April temperatures, we aren't out of the woods yet with potential for frost injury. How does that go - "hope for the best and deal with the rest?"
Alfalfa Harvest Alert - Scissors Cut Project
The Central MN Forage Council Board met last week. We will be doing the Alfalfa Harvest Alert project again this year. We'll take scissors-cut samples on Monday and Thursday morning, note height, maturity and PEAQ stick numbers... and run a lab test on clipped samples. We'll aim to share the information as we have in the past... posting here on the Minnesota Crop E-News Website, Albany KASM 1150 and Little Falls KLTF 960 radio in our area, and posting a recording on my telephone voice mail. We're open to other suggestions.
We will be working here with sites in Stearns, Benton, Morrison and Wright County. Nathan Winter will be working with Meeker and McLeod. Laura Kieser will be working with Carver and Scott similar to past year.
We welcome any suggestions you might have about the process.
There could be a lot of variation around the area this year based on soil types, cooler-warmer, wetter-drier. Cool weather seems to result in more variability. Steady warm weather seems to push everything along more uniformly.
Cooler whether tends to provide alfalfa with less fiber and correspondingly higher digestibility. The amount of sunshine and moisture are also factors, so you can guess about how it all balances out.
Pricing Standing Hay
Our UWEX colleagues have posted a good article on "Pricing Standing Hay" that can be found at Pricing Standing Hay.
They have also posted an Excel Spreadsheet Calculator where you can try putting in numbers that fit your situation. This is located at
Look under Economics and Budgeting for "Pricing Standing Forage Worksheet."
Our Central MN Forage Council Board is working on plans for a summer forage field day. We'll share more as we see how things come together. Extension staff in the St. Cloud area are also planning some some dairy tours. Watch for more information.
Safety and Planting
Encourage neighbors to stay focused on working safely through the spring work season.
As field dry out from recent rains, I think we'll be pretty much on a track - that when fields are dry enough for good tillage, making good seedbeds and planting effectively, we'll be on the calendar where we finish planting small grains and get on with planting corn soon without too much risk. Your experience on your land over the years is important to consider.
Useful forage websites
University of Minnesota Extension Forage Web Page
Midwest Forage Association
Midwest Forage Association