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Tall hay going into winter?


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#1 Production Acres

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Posted 07 October 2009 - 06:24 AM

This will have to be our worst hay year ever! We still have 500 acres of 2nd cutting hay to make and about 1000 acres of 3rd cutting. We should be finishing 3rd cutting about now and some 4th cutting. We have a lot of hay in the field that is 2-4 ft high! It has rained a lot!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! All Summer!!!!!!!!!!! We may have some opportunities in the next couple weeks to bale a little more of this hay, but I doubt we will get it all baled. How would you approach a situation like this to put the fields in the best shape for next year? Bushog them? Cut the hay and let it lay? Burn it off in January?

#2 TBrown

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Posted 07 October 2009 - 06:30 AM

What type of hay is it? mostly grass? I would try like heck to get it all baled off even if the quality falls off if you can do so without nitrate problems and tearing up your fields. we have bushhogged fields in the past and you end up with a lot of trash in your hay the first cut the next year but sometimes thats the only option. Start mowing...i'll head that way in the 7930 to help ya bale...i'll be there in three days LOL

#3 mlappin

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Posted 07 October 2009 - 07:52 AM

I'm in the same situation. While I don't have near that much to make, in our area according to Purdue we are supposed to stop cutting on the 15th of September to allow a month of regrowth before the first killing frost. Problem is with the horrible weather we've had the last 3 weeks I still have 10 acres of third to make for the neighbor, 40 acres of fourth, and 25 acres of 3 rd. If we don't get a killing frost shortly those numbers could rise as its still growing. Which doesn't seem like a lot, but those fields are as opposite points of the compass as I can get so a lot of driving between them, and this time of year it will take at least five days to get it to dry down. The neighbors has to be done as he needs it for the hay burners. The rest I'm tempted to see if the other neighbor would be willing to large square it wet and wrap it for half the hay.

I've read more than one article that says to leave it instead of cutting it this late, but on the first cutting what I don't keep for my beef cows the rest gets sold as horsehay and can't hardly have this years crop in it as it makes for some ugly bales.

#4 Production Acres

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Posted 07 October 2009 - 08:09 AM

It is a/o and fescue and t/o. The problem is we don't have a swamp buggy with a mower on it. We have left ruts in every field this year except maybe twice. You are pushing mud out from under the tires when you cut the field and having to leave the wet spots when you bale the field. Unthinkable that you would get a 4wd cutter stuck in August, and not be able to bale 1 day in September. Now we are getting rain almost every day in Oct.

#5 mlappin

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Posted 07 October 2009 - 08:25 AM

It's not that wet here yet. Simple fact of the matter is though, we have a chance of rain nearly everyday for the next week. Even when the sun is out its still damp. Have maybe got two inches in the last 3 weeks, couple of tenths here, couple of tenths there.

#6 okhillbilly

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Posted 07 October 2009 - 08:36 AM

On the grass hay I can't get baled by before we get a hard freeze. I'm going to bale it as filler hay and mix it with good hay to feed my cows this winter. I usually feed cubes anyway during winter. May have to feed some extra to keep up there body fat.

#7 okhillbilly

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Posted 07 October 2009 - 08:54 AM

I've seen alot of cattle farmers around here cutting hay in December around here. At least the drying time ought to be short. I would'nt sell it to any customers unless there desperate for hay and they knew what I was selling to them.

#8 Heyhay..eh

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Posted 07 October 2009 - 11:32 AM

A few years back a neighbour had 200a of 2nd cut hay that he couldn't get off because of rain & wet field conditions. He waited until the ground was frozen hard before tackling it. He was just ahead of the snow. And he still had all of his first cut bales in the field where they fell.

We put on a tractor with a loader to move the bales out of the way, a mower and right behind that the baler. We just backed the bales up 15 feet mowed and baled in one continuous operation.

The hay was not great but it was put through as chopper with good hay and some grain. Got him through the winter.

Next year his field was in good shape, no ruts, no old bottom or swaths to hamper mowing or mix in with the new hay crop.

Of course this would only work where you get freezing ground and you have a window before snow falls.

Anything you can do to get the old hay off the field will benefit you next year. I am cleaning up some field now just to get the old hay off. It is black and some has been down for a month or more. I am also going to see if I can get on with a roller/packer to fix up the ruts. I'm thinking that that should smooth things out a bit.

Burning : no good for the plants underneath the swath

Bush Mower: leaves trash in the next hay crop especially if it does not break it up fine. If it is very dry then this might be an option

Leaving it: Next year you will have more headaches than you can imagine especially if you are cutting with a knife It will jam up, cover the cutters, and make you hay look dirty.

Baling: best option if you can make it happen.

Sorry to hear about you plight, hope all works out for you.

Take care

#9 Rodney R

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Posted 07 October 2009 - 07:41 PM

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Leave it there. The alfalfa will deteriorate to almost nothing, and the grass will shrivel to half it's height. If you have any snow on it will go down even more. Just depending on how high it is it won't be a problem for next year, but if you feel that it will be a problem, you can mow it off if the ground dries over winter, or while it's frozen. We mowed a lot of 2nd cut timothy and o-grass last year while it was darn cold outside - in winter you'll have a LOT less material to try to work with, and it will all be dead, and that means that it will work easier. We mowed a lot of alfalfa down in spring, and it was just really the stalks sticking up anymore, and then maybe only 50% of them. The last thing that I would do is mow it now. And there is enough junk hay on the market that the last thing you need is 'cheap' hay that is going to cost you money in the end. A flail mower will really work well where you have a lot of material - it will not windrow, and a plain ole batwing will work on alfalfa in spring. I know that's what were going to do. We've got all of the 2nd cut in, and we finally have some 3rd cut that is blooming, but now we're out of weather. We even mowed a lot of 2nd cut grass with the flail this summer - we had so much rain that all the weeds grew - even though there was a lot of material that we mowed, it dried to nearly nothing. If you want to mow right now, then a flail mower would be the ticket. A batwing will just windrow the chopped material.

Rodney

Not sure if it says. but this is SE PA.

#10 mlappin

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Posted 07 October 2009 - 09:22 PM

I've tried leaving it before, problem was when I was using a sickle and if it was a wet spring, that stuff from the fall before was half rotten yet and was a freakin nightmare to mow.

Then the tedder picks some of it up as well as the wheel rake, by time it finally got baled, those bales were just plain ugly. Since about 80% of my first cutting is sold as horse hay, having this years crop in next years first cutting is not an option.

#11 Production Acres

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Posted 08 October 2009 - 06:43 AM

we burned off about 3 acres this spring as an experment and it seemed to work well. I know several farmers in MI who burn a lot in the spring. That would remove all the thatch and put it down as fertilizer. Also the kids would have fun. and you don't have a lot of expense associated with doing such - just time. Anyone done much burning?

#12 okhillbilly

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Posted 08 October 2009 - 09:04 AM

I've done some burning with some of my field. It really helps the field. The biggest problem with burning is the liability. If it ever gets out of control "you " are responsible for any damage to anybody else's property ! They have state rules about control burns you are required to follow in Oklahoma. Some are file planes with the fire department 2 weeks in advance and notify your neigbors at the same time. Do you have any idea how to predict the weather 2 weeks away?

#13 Heyhay..eh

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Posted 09 October 2009 - 12:56 AM

Had hay in swaths and burned it. Bad idea. It left rows without any plant life and the weeds got in right away. I know that burning give good doses of bio char and it might give a different result if the hay is still standing and the fire is not concentrated on the ground. In the swaths was just too much heat.

Take care

#14 Rodney R

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Posted 09 October 2009 - 08:48 PM

You guys are giving me a panick attack with the horror stories about leaving standing hay in the field. Do you get a lot of snow to insulate over winter? We've had a lot of bare ground the past few years, would that maybe have an effect on how much 'stuff' was there in spring? The alfalfa that we have left in the field was about 2 ft tall, not quite in bloom, and by spring..... maybe only half of it was still there, and it had thinned out a lot. A pass with the batwing shattered the rest of it. Last time I saw a field burned, it was in rolls and it smoldered for 2 weeks, and the field had to be replanted. If the material was dry and spread out, it might be alright.

Rodney

#15 okhillbilly

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Posted 13 October 2009 - 08:55 AM

I agree with (hayhay..eh) about burning in a windrow. Definatly kills the grass under the windrow. Brother-in-law had hay in his field that got alot of rain on it and burned it off, nothing but weeds in thier now. Most year the regrowth after the last cut is minimal and burning is easly controled. But this year we have as much regrowth as a first cut. Real fire hazard after it dies off for the winter. That's one reason to get it cut off. It will still make filler hay if its not wet and moldy before its baled.

#16 hayray

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Posted 14 October 2009 - 07:42 AM

I have never seen a problem leaving it. However, I still plan on baling, I still have some first cut brome sitn somewhere I got to get to and pleanty of 2nd and 3rd. I still bale right up until the snow flies, Im not giving up. I always get some 1st cut brome baled this time of year into November in good shape but the rest will most likely be cattle feed. I did bale some beutiful 3rd cut alfalfa last year in November, seems like it eventually gets freeze dried.

#17 mlappin

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Posted 14 October 2009 - 07:54 AM

You guys are giving me a panick attack with the horror stories about leaving standing hay in the field. Do you get a lot of snow to insulate over winter? We've had a lot of bare ground the past few years, would that maybe have an effect on how much 'stuff' was there in spring? The alfalfa that we have left in the field was about 2 ft tall, not quite in bloom, and by spring..... maybe only half of it was still there, and it had thinned out a lot. A pass with the batwing shattered the rest of it. Last time I saw a field burned, it was in rolls and it smoldered for 2 weeks, and the field had to be replanted. If the material was dry and spread out, it might be alright.

Rodney


Normally if its only a foot tall or so I'll leave. Stuff I'm looking at trying to get done yet this year is over knee high. I've left hay that tall in the past and enough is left come May that I can't hardly sell it for horse hay as its real ugly by time the tedder and the rake lifts some more of it up and adds it to the fresh hay.

#18 Rodney R

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Posted 14 October 2009 - 08:57 PM

Maybe the thing is that more often then not, the winter we have is open, or there are bare ground periods. I would guess that if it would snow, and things would stay covered, the hay left in the field would be a problem, as the snow would tend to 'insulate' and maybe keep the hay from decomposing? That's never been a problem here - it all goes to nothing over winter - I guess that the lack of snow helps in that regard - the alfalfa and grasses shrivel up to nothing. A quick pass with a bushhog in spring and what is out there shatters to nothing. Like Wilson always says - there is no universal truth about haymaking.

Rodney

#19 mlappin

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Posted 11 November 2009 - 09:06 AM

So...mowed some last Sunday the 1st and some more on the second. Laid it out narrow so the ground could dry between the rows. Tedded it every day after the third day. Almost dry Saturdy, didn't quite get there though, and had fog with a 1/4 mile visibilty Sunday morning. Got wet enough literally had to start over. Monday was overcast all day and I baled it anyways. Soon as the hay hit the chamber it buried my Harvest tec unit. Seen one reading of 33% before it went to reading High. Neighbor came over and wrapped it yesterday for me for 7 bucks a bale. Not sure if it was wet enough to make good silage or not, But if it comes down to nothing but snowflakes or cornstalks this winter, I'm sure the beef cows will eat it.

The one field I mowed was between knee and waist high, but I still only got one bale per acre.

Temps were in the 50's to lower 60's all the week it was down with little or no dew at night and a good stiff breeze, but still took almost a week to get not quite dry. If anybody else is in the same situation and you have a use for it, I would highly suggest making it wet and wrapping it before teddin it every morning 3 or 4 times.

#20 Barry Bowen

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Posted 17 November 2009 - 10:57 PM

Burning orchard grass is not a good idea no matter how tall. OG stores all of its regrowth energy above ground and you will destroy it. Switch grass or fescue will benefit from the burn as it stores it's regrowth energy underground.




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