Monthly hay sale draws large crowd to Canton with 1,800 large bales sold

CHARLIE WARNER/NEWS LEADER A large contingency, with over 100 buyers, was on hand Monday, Jan. 13, for the monthly hay sale held at the Preston Farm and Dairy’s Canton location.
Charlie Warner

Preston Farm and Dairy’s Canton site was a flurry of activity on Monday, Jan. 13, for the monthly hay sale. The large field to the east and north of the facility, located just west of Canton on Highway 52 was covered with nearly 1,800 large square and round bales and another 655 small square bales piled in neat stacks.

“This is the most hay and straw we’ve had,” said Canton manager Josh Schreiber. “We have 1,796 big bales and another 655 small square bales,” he reported last Monday morning before the noon auction got underway. Schreiber said he went back through the hay sale records and found one sale that had 2,000 large hay, straw and corn stock bales to be auctioned off. But there were more square bales at that sale. Tonnage-wise, last Monday’s sale (with 1,133 tons) was the most ever.

The hay sale in Canton was started 18 years ago by Don Ward, Ron Vikre and Cleon Wilbur. The sale is held the second Monday of every month November through April. Farmers from as far as 35 miles away bring their alfalfa, straw and corn stalks to the Canton location to be auctioned off. Monday’s sale included product from 52 sellers, who brought in 179 loads. Schreiber said farmers start delivering their bales about two weeks before the upcoming sale. The early birds have to have a means to unload their bales. Those who deliver them the final week have the option of paying a local farmer to unload their bales.

“I’m in charge of organizing each sale, as far as making sure each lot is registered under the correct seller’s name,” Schreiber noted. “Once all of the bales have been registered, Ron Gehling and his crew do the rest. They register all the buyers, line up the auction tickets, auction off all the bales and handle the paperwork. They do a good job. Unless the weather is really nasty, the sales go smoothly.”

Schreiber figures buyers come from as far away as Rochester, Albert Lea, Winona, Decorah and Cresco. “We draw from a fairly large area,” he stated. And the sale draws a large crowd of buyers and spectators to Canton. More than 150 persons were on hand for Monday’s sale.