In general, grass prices will be lower. This past year, seed demand for the Conservation Reserve Program, U.S. Forest Service, and Bureau of Land Management has been less. Since there is lower demand and a good supply of most grass, seed prices will remain stable to lower.
Oil and gas production is returning with a greater seed demand. Market indicators show that oil and gas production will grow in 2017. Increase demand would affect seed prices.
Currently the low-price trend continues with cool season species. However, one species in particular, orchard grass, will have higher prices because there is limited supply.
Alfalfa and legumes are both down. Demand is moderate for high quality horse hay and alfalfa will have an adequate supply keeping their prices moderate.
There are attributes in alfalfa that matter and varieties can set them apart. WL Alfalfa is disease resistant which improves the quality dramatically. Additionally, WL was the first to develop Round-Up Ready varieties. This year WL will release their new variety called HarvXtra, which boasts lower lignin and is Round Up resistant. The lower lignin content increases the plant’s digestibility. One of the greatest advantages of HarvXtra is the expanded flexibility in cutting schedule to protect forage quality.
Shrub demand is low, supply is fair to low, making prices moderate. Forbs are in high demand thanks to CRP. As a result, supply is lower creating higher prices.
Prices for turfgrass are stable, including fescues, Kentucky bluegrass, and perennial ryegrass where there’s an adequate supply and demand is stable. Kentucky bluegrass industry has been impacted by western states that are working to reduce the acres of Kentucky bluegrass.
Seed market conditions will remain favorable for consumers throughout 2016, bolstered by competitive pricing and generally abundant supplies.
Low commodity prices continue to incentivize investment in pasture grasses and alfalfa as alternative crops. Combined with a slowdown in government spending on reclamation species, general market conditions will benefit seed buyers.
Soft prices for corn and wheat crops will encourage farmers to replant acreage to alfalfa this year. Good alfalfa seed supplies and favorable prices create an extra incentive for producers to pursue this crop.
A weak commodity market has also resulted in more acreage for cool season grasses in northern production zones. With the exception of species such as meadow brome and orchard grass, cool season seed supplies have improved from 2015 and prices benefit the buyer.
Warm season grasses have come down in price as well, due in large part to reduced CRP acreage – one of the greatest sources of demand for this category. Lower CRP and Great Basin seeding demand has also freed up forb seed supplies, creating opportunity and lower prices for those interested in planting pollinator species, such as wildflowers and legumes.
A similar situation has brought down prices for shrub seed, in this case influenced by lower demand from the Bureau of Land Management. The seed is in good supply with competitive prices.
Turf seed pricing remains consistent. Sod-quality Kentucky Bluegrass seed will be in shorter supply, however, as low-yielding varieties are removed from production. Sod-quality tall fescue seed is in good supply.
While still largely a niche category, organic seed has made inroads, with supply improving. Overall, supply remains insufficient to meet demand, however. As interest in organic foods increases, production is expected to continue growing.
In general, supply of small grains is good and demand has stayed consistent. This seed has good availability and prices have come down.