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Alberta hay prices

Alberta hay production in 2022 was much improved over 2021.

See event listings and more articles in this edition of Agri-News: December 5, 2022 issue

“Significant rain throughout the majority of the province during the spring and early summer months set the stage for yields to return to normal,” says Ryan Furtas, market analyst with the Alberta government. “Persistent dry conditions for the majority of the summer allowed for much of the hay crop to be high quality and hay season to be relatively stress free.”

According to the Alberta crop report, yield for first cut dryland hay was estimated at 1.6 tons/acre (above the 5-year average of 1.4 tons/acre). Quality was rated as 5% poor, 22% fair, 61% good and 12% excellent.

For irrigated hay, yield was reported at 2.2 tons/acre, below the 5-year average of 2.4 tons/acre. Quality was rated at 3% poor, 30% fair, 62% good and 5% excellent.

Approximately 90% of dryland hay in the province was from the first cut. Some producers, particularly in the South Region, failed to harvest a second cut, or harvested very little. The remaining 10% was from the second cut, with yields estimated at 1.0 tons/acre, compared to the 5-year average of 1.1 tons/acre.

For irrigated hay, first cut accounted for 60% of the total with the second cut accounting for 36% and third cut accounted for the remaining 4%.

“Alberta hay production has experienced a series of production issues in the past 5 years,” points out Furtas. “2018, 2019 and 2021 were low production years. The annual average cost of Alberta hay has increased 4 of the past 5 years, with 2020 being the lone exception. Prices for a ton of hay have more than doubled in value since 2017, when prices averaged $116/ton compared to the 2022 average price of nearly $240/ton.”

Chart 1. Annual average cost of Alberta hay (good quality >50% alfalfa)

“The back to normal production in 2022 was more than welcome by producers, but it will take at least another year of normal production to see hay prices potentially decrease.”

Hay prices are also contingent on the Western Canadian feed grain complex which has been demonstrating historically, and at times, record high prices since the fall of 2021. Feed grains are expected to be historically high priced for the remainder of 2022 and into 2023, which contributes to high hay prices.

“Feed and forage availability for 2022 is considered to be mostly adequate, with only a few livestock producers indicating a surplus. Regardless of availability, hay prices are likely to remain on the high side for the rest of the 2022-23 crop year. A return to normal production for hay was critical. While the high prices are not helping livestock margins, they do help hay producer margins,” say Furtas.


Connect with Ryan Furtas for more information:
Phone: 780-422-7095

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