Madison County farmers are getting a bit of good news with a record amount of hay bales expected to be sold this weekend at the annual Madison County hay auction at the fairgrounds.
According to Brandon Sears, an agent at the Madison County Extension Office, this auction will have a record year with thousands and thousands of bales of hay.
“This is the most we have ever had,” he said. “It was a good year for growing hay.”
After a shortage of hay last year due to heavy rainfall, Sears predicts this year will be a buyer’s market with so much hay ready for sale.
He explained the hay reprisal was due, in his opinion, to a difference in growing years.
“It’s just a difference in growing years when the rains came and the dry spells let us bale hay, actually,” he said. “There were a good series of windows where we could get the hay up and get it dry.”
In shortage years, he explained, it tends to rain and delays the grower's harvest. They may be able to cut the hay, but it cannot get baled because it is too wet and can rot.
Typically, prices for cattle-feeding hay bales can range about $25 to $35 when there isn't a shortage, but Sears expects that prices could be double that this year.
Last year, Sears said some hay bales sold for as high as $90.
Farmers who sell their hay at the auction get most of the money back from sales, with a percentage going to the fairgrounds board — which is a primary driver for the auction. The Madison County Extension office and the Kentucky Department of Agriculture also help with the event.
Going forward, Sears said he expects the effects to be positive.
“It is good and we will take it when we can — the good years when we get hay cut and produced,” he said.
Already, Sears and staff working the auction have had to accommodate the space by placing higher quality hay indoors, and a lower quality outside.
“We are packing it in as tight as we can. We have a lot outside, and even the floral hall next door is full of hay wagons,” he explained.
Throughout the day on Friday, Sears and a representative from the state will be sampling and testing the hay to determine the quality ahead of the big sale on Saturday.
“The type of hay it is and how it tests, along with the size, will depend on the price of what it will sell for,” he said.
Hay will continue to be accepted until the end of the day Friday, unless they run out of room.
“We will continue taking hay until we cut everything off and it just has to start being stored outside,” Sears said.
The hay auction will begin Saturday, Jan. 9 at 10 a.m.
Reach Taylor Six at 624-6695 or follow her on Twitter at @TaylorSixRR.