Study shows keys to hay profitability

Two new studies from the University of California Cooperative Extension show growers the estimated costs of establishing and producing alfalfa hay in the San Joaquin Valley.

The studies include budgets for establishing an alfalfa stand and producing alfalfa on 300 acres of a 1,200-acre farm and on 50 acres of a 50-acre farm. The alfalfa is harvested for hay and haylage on the 300 acres and for hay only on the 50-acre farm.

Sample Costs to Establish and Produce Alfalfa Hay, 300-Acre Planting, San Joaquin Valley and Sample Costs to Establish and Produce Alfalfa Hay, 50-Acre Planting are based upon hypothetical farming operations using practices common to the area. Input and reviews were provided by farm advisors, researchers, growers, pest control advisers, consultants and other agricultural associates.

Assumptions used to identify current costs for the individual crops, material inputs, cash and non-cash overhead are described. A ranging analysis table shows profits over a range of prices and yields. Other tables show monthly cash costs, costs and returns per acre, hourly equipment costs, and the whole farm annual equipment, investment and business overhead costs.

The studies are available online at and are also available from local UCCE offices.

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