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Timing when to cut


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#1 JCRFARMS

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 07:36 AM

This will be my first year baling hay myself. I have 70 acres of Bahia that I have had done on halves for the past couple years and I am trying to get a game plan together in my head. I have another full time job so juggling the two things will be a challenge. The guy who did it before would cut in the morning, ted it that afternoon, ted it again the next day and in most cases bale that afternoon on day 2. I will probably only cut 1/3 at the time just so I don't get in over my head. I was thinking of cutting late afternoon probably ending up after dark just so I don't have to take time off work. Will that make I huge difference vs. cutting that next morning? I'm thinking the hay will lay overnight but won't have sun on it so maybe won't make much difference. I have a father in-law that can help but I don't want to ask too much. I figure he can ted the next morning after it was cut, then he or I can ted the next day and we will bale that afternoon if it is dry enough. The guy before really liked to ted it and dry it fast, I'm not sure if he didn't ted it 3 times in 2 days. He always did a really good job and put up the best Bahia I've seen in a role. Thank you guy's for any advice or general guidelines to model my plan after.

#2 Mike120

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 08:19 AM

It helps if we know where you are. Here in SE Texas when I cut Bahia, I never ted it and pretty much always rake and bale on Day 3.
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#3 JCRFARMS

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 08:21 AM

I'm in the Florida Panhandle, thanks.

#4 Teslan

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 08:33 AM

Don't forget the weather forecast when doing your planning.
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#5 RockmartGA

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 08:41 AM

How long to cure and when to bale is indeed the $64,000 question when it comes to haying. It is a function of many things such as type of hay, how thick (or thin as the case may be), humidity, amount of wind, amount of sunshine, temperature, etc, etc, etc.

I have cut one morning and baled the next afternoon and then there have been times when I fought with it for 3-4 days trying to get it dry.

I'm in the same situation in that I have another full time job that comes first. Often, I will cut one afternoon after work, ted the next, windrow the next, and then bale. If the timing works out, you could windrow and bale on a Saturday. Conversely, if your father-in-law could windrow, you could come in and bale the same afternoon.

The bottom line is that there are no set rules in the hay business. It is dependent upon so many things. But, I have confidence that you will work out your own system to get the job done.

Necessity is the mother of invention....
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#6 JCRFARMS

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 09:56 AM

My Father in-law will be a big help and I plan on him raking for me the day I bale along with doing some tedding when needed. He is retired and likes just being out there. I've always given him 30 to 40 rolls of hay in years past just for helping me out. He doesn't ask to be but I will compensate him for his help.

#7 mlappin

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 10:17 AM

I mow whenever I can. Prefer mornings but have mown late night in the dark as well. git er dun
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#8 Nitram

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 11:37 AM

Agree with the above. Work full time then ranch/hay when i get home. Seems like I'm always juggling optimal vs availible. It would be great to be able to cut when the grass is at its peak for protein etc then have it cured baled and put away just before a nice big rain.

#9 floyd

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 02:50 PM

One thing I have is cutting late in the afternoon when the sugars are in the stem makes better hay for me. I try to cut grass before it pollinates.
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#10 hay wilson in TX

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 08:48 PM

One thing I have is cutting late in the afternoon when the sugars are in the stem makes better hay for me. I try to cut grass before it pollinates.



Depends on your micro climate. You can cut in the dark in much of Idaho and loose little or no built up sugars, due to the night air being too cold to support respiration.

Here in Central Texas with our yields we need an accumulation of 0.50" of pan evaporation before the hay will be dry enough to bale. And that is conditional on the humidity being high enough when baling to have the leaves limber enough not to shatter.
This is IF the hay is spread out full width. Drop the hay in a windrow and figure 1.00" of accumulated pan evaporation before the hay will be dry enough to bale with out molding.
If the above is met then bale when the humidity down next to the windrow is 70% and finish when the humidity is close to 50%.
A few may go some time before the humidity goes below 70% and other places where the humidity seldom goes ABOVE 50% humidity. If you are in this climate, drop your hay in a windrow and rake the hay soon after mowing into the windrow you expect to bale out of.

For most of us the key to good sugar levels is for the hay to be at or below 48% moisture by dark. HERE hay can be dry enough to stop respiration by dark if we have 5 hours of good hot sunshine. Go up to Minnesota and you probably never have "good hot sunshine" ! There wind and humidity is more important.
The hot sun heats the hay moisture increasing the vapor pressure and driving the moisture out of the hay.
Here we need to rake the hay close to first light for the needed 90% humidity to keep the leaves.

Something to consider, the leave dry much faster than the stems, and they pick up a lot more moisture over night while the stems take on very little night dew moisture. So here hay will usually will be dry enough to bale about 11 am and start loosing leaves by 1 or 2 pm.
Moral do not cut more hay than you can bale between too damp to bale and too dry to bale. If you are close enough to humidity that no time during the day or night will the humidity go below 55% you can bale till done.
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#11 Texasmark

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Posted 05 May 2012 - 08:21 AM

You can't be picky when working full time. You have to do it when you can. First off, your idea on splitting the hay patch into pieces is the right idea. Your chances of side stepping bad weather and getting the hay cured and up before it becomes too dry to bale and looses all it's color and smell and all are greatly improved. Plus you have to time to rest and don't have this feeling of being overwhelmed by the task.

I have read from agronomists publications that cutting in the morning is best as the sugars are up in the leaves and that makes the hay more palatable. On Bahia, I doubt that is a problem; sudan/sorghum, yes.

I find that baling no later than mid afternoon produces the driest hay if you are having a problem with getting it cured and getting it up before it gets rained on. Some people without that problem bale hay that is too dry to bale properly when some dew is on it, like in the morning or late evening. Personal note here is the hay needs to be really dry,like break in 1 to 2 of the 3 twist cured test and not a lot of dew and whether or not you are doing squares or round bales. I never had that too dry problem as I either had work or weather or something causing me to push the envelope and get it up as soon as I possibly could and not ruin the hay by it having too much moisture content when putting up.

Hayin is a hot, dry, weather profession and in my opinion, that is how you get your best crop. But, as said, gotta do what you have time to do but some common sense is required. Early in my farming experience, I had this super hay crop and thunderstorms were coming. I didn't want it to get rained on and "ruin my gorgeous hay patch" so I baled into the night, well after a heavy dew had set in. Was baling squares that I immediately put in the barn. In short, I ruined the hay and almost burnt my barn down and the rain wasn't all that much and would have done a whole lot less damage. So exert common sense.

Good Luck,
Mark
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#12 rjmoses

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 06:26 AM

It all depends! Haying is 50% skill, 50% hard work, 75% black magic, 90% luck.

Thursday AM forecast called for 30% chance of rain for next 5 days with temps in the high 80's. Decide to mow 25 acres. Finished mowing, checked forecast, jumped to 50% chance of rain Thursday night. Got .15". 5 miles north of me got 1.5". Lucky? (I think so--I've had heavier dews.) We'll see. Hope to bale it today because they're calling for 50% chance of rain tomorrow.

Ralph

#13 Shawns71

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 10:48 AM

Up here in MN I look for 4-5 days of sunshine, I try to cut just before our orchard grass mix starts to leaf out, Early mornings are the best sun up, once the sun hits your hay you start to lose vitamins, the rest of protean depends on your conditioner, I also depend on my delmhorst moister tester, my magic # is 22% then I rake it once and bale small squares 55lbs 'ers and treat it with silo king ( 2lbs per ton) thus creates a really nice bale, my main customers are private equine people, and after 8 years of this small business I've been very successful and we now are certifying our hay and striving for a great reputation in forage business, But one thing, Up here in MN it will drive you nuts trying to forecast the window of opportunity to cut, HE,HE. good luck!
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#14 Texasmark

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Posted 07 May 2012 - 07:47 AM

Up here in MN I look for 4-5 days of sunshine, I try to cut just before our orchard grass mix starts to leaf out, Early mornings are the best sun up, once the sun hits your hay you start to lose vitamins, the rest of protean depends on your conditioner, I also depend on my delmhorst moister tester, my magic # is 22% then I rake it once and bale small squares 55lbs 'ers and treat it with silo king ( 2lbs per ton) thus creates a really nice bale, my main customers are private equine people, and after 8 years of this small business I've been very successful and we now are certifying our hay and striving for a great reputation in forage business, But one thing, Up here in MN it will drive you nuts trying to forecast the window of opportunity to cut, HE,HE. good luck!


Certainly can't argue with success and if you have repeat equine customers, you are apparently punching ALL the right buttons.

Mark

#15 JD3430

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Posted 12 May 2012 - 08:03 AM

You can't be picky when working full time. You have to do it when you can. First off, your idea on splitting the hay patch into pieces is the right idea. Your chances of side stepping bad weather and getting the hay cured and up before it becomes too dry to bale and looses all it's color and smell and all are greatly improved. Plus you have to time to rest and don't have this feeling of being overwhelmed by the task.

I have read from agronomists publications that cutting in the morning is best as the sugars are up in the leaves and that makes the hay more palatable. On Bahia, I doubt that is a problem; sudan/sorghum, yes.

I find that baling no later than mid afternoon produces the driest hay if you are having a problem with getting it cured and getting it up before it gets rained on. Some people without that problem bale hay that is too dry to bale properly when some dew is on it, like in the morning or late evening. Personal note here is the hay needs to be really dry,like break in 1 to 2 of the 3 twist cured test and not a lot of dew and whether or not you are doing squares or round bales. I never had that too dry problem as I either had work or weather or something causing me to push the envelope and get it up as soon as I possibly could and not ruin the hay by it having too much moisture content when putting up.

Hayin is a hot, dry, weather profession and in my opinion, that is how you get your best crop. But, as said, gotta do what you have time to do but some common sense is required. Early in my farming experience, I had this super hay crop and thunderstorms were coming. I didn't want it to get rained on and "ruin my gorgeous hay patch" so I baled into the night, well after a heavy dew had set in. Was baling squares that I immediately put in the barn. In short, I ruined the hay and almost burnt my barn down and the rain wasn't all that much and would have done a whole lot less damage. So exert common sense.

Good Luck,
Mark


Great post. can't get enough of this kind of shared information. It's relatively easy to buy equipment and find fields to hay. OTOH, experience in the field is difficult tocome by.
This will be my first full year (jumped in late season last year) and I'm excited, but a little stressed out. There's no hard & set fast rules for everyone. All these different micro climates, crops, customer needs and equipment make no one hay contractor's situation the same as another.
The common sense proceedures the experienced guys are willing to share are invaluable!

#16 whitmerlegacyfarm

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Posted 13 May 2012 - 07:23 PM

This is also my first full year at trying this. I only have about 8.5ac in hay right now and helping a neighbor with another 15ac. Problem i have here in PA right now is my orchard grass is headed out and it needs cut bad but the weather is just not right now. Not warm enough and can't get more then 2-3 days of dry weather. I see some of the bigger farms starting Haylage, but i'm baling for our 3 horses. Also love hoping on here reading up on everyones ways of making hay. I fought the rain last year w/ a 2nd a 3rd cutting. on a few acres.

#17 JD3430

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Posted 13 May 2012 - 08:48 PM

I agree. I think my fields are ready to cut, but rain forecasted for next 3 days!

#18 mlappin

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Posted 13 May 2012 - 08:59 PM

With the proper equipment you can take the 4 or 5 days of sunshine down to two. I'm in Northern Indiana and in no way have what would be considered an arid climate.

My standard procedure is to mow while in the AM while the hay is still a little damp from the dew but not soaking wet. Lay it out in the widest row I can without running the tractor wheels on it. All my haymaking tractors have the wheels set out as wide as possible btw. Ted the next morning while the hay is still tough from the dew but not sopping wet. My tedder spreads and fluffs much better this way. Rake about 3 or 4 o'clock with a v wheel rake. Bale about 5 or 6 while figuring the dew will set about an hour before dark which is around 10 pm here. So elapsed time from mowing one morning to baling is less than 48 hours ideally, may take till the third day after mowing if ground is wet, humidity is especially high or it turns overcast after mowing. I also have aftermarket conditioning rolls in my discbine, but could still usually still make hay in two days.

#19 whitmerlegacyfarm

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Posted 14 May 2012 - 02:08 PM

I agree. I think my fields are ready to cut, but rain forecasted for next 3 days!


It's looking like the end of the week may clear up and highs near 80 to low 80's. I'm thinking of cutting a few acres down Thursday of T and O grass, then Ted it Friday then ted it sat and possibly bale but probably let it lay to sunday and rake and bale. I'm just not sure with the nights being the mid 50's if that's going to hurt me. It's just my O grass needs cut bad otherwise nothing is going to eat it. What's everyone's thoughts if you are in the northeast area?

#20 JCRFARMS

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Posted 15 May 2012 - 10:16 AM

I got it done!!! I took off work thursday and cut that morning. I used the tedder about 2pm that afternoon and then again about 10:30 Friday morning. We had a guy from New Holland coming down to help us with using our new br7070 for the first time so I wanted to make sure it was ready. We baled that Friday. I have a few pictures to share. The hay was not really tall and thick but we wanted to try out the equipment. We will cut a 35 acre field in time to bale this weekend. Will probably cut Thursday after work. Thanks for all the replys.
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