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Dyersville sales owner Dale Lesslein says the price of good quality alfalfa hay will go even higher by March and April; he’s already selling it for over $300 per ton.
The shortage of hay comes from two factors: the 2012 drought and a major acreage switch from hay to corn. The result is a dilemma for dairy farmers trying to keep milk production high and beef cattle producers trying to get cows through the winter so they can graze green grass next spring.
“Haying is a young man’s game,” says Lesslein. “We don’t have enough young farmers to do it. Older farmers are going to grow corn and soybeans and buy their hay,” according to the hay specialist who holds an auction each Wednesday.
Lesslein says Canadian straw is the only relief for those needing moderate to low quality roughage. Canada banned burning straw last year so farmers baled and are now selling into the U.S. market.