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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, I am new to the forum and am looking for any and all advice that i can get.
Here is the situation i am in:
I have a 12 acre field in east texas between bogata and clarksville. this field used to be partially wooded but the previous owners sold all the timber off. Right now there are several stumps cut off close to the ground (1-6") but some are around 3' in diameter. The majority of the brush is pushed in a burn pile already but there are a few limbs and trees scattered around here and there. Also the soil is more of a clay/blackland type soil, even though the adjoining 12 acres that i live on is mostly sandy. there is a dry creek bed running through the middle of the property, and cuthand creek flowing around one border of the property. the ground CAN hold water when its really wet.

What i would like to do:
I am a horse trainer and spend thousands of dollars each year on buying hay. It would save me alot of money to be able to grow my own. I would like to find out if it is possible/worth the effort to convert this field into a hay field and what all will be involved in doing that. i would like yalls honest detailed opinions on what you would do if it was yours. i would prefer to make hay on it but if its not practical, i could always fence and graze it. i would like to know:

-what grows the best on this type of climate and soil
-should i have stumps ground down or some other means of removal?
-what type of prep work do i need to do to the field (stumps, burning, discing, fertilizer, lime? etc)
-time frames on when to do what in order to have a stand of hay next year?
-when to sprig and how much
-will someone come out and fertilize/lime/sprig/cut/rake/bale for me? who?
-on an average year, what should i expect for yields on 12 acres for recommended breeds of grasses?
-ball park estimate from right now to stacking hay in the barn of how much this should cost?
-are there any programs i might be eligible for to possibly receive financial/technical support?

Im sorry, i know this is a lot of questions but i am new to this and want to learn as much as i can. Any and all advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time,

Matt
 

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My recommendation, depending on your other land, would be to use it for pasture and over winter forage. Anytime you are looking to save money on hay by growing it, I can tell you that's a losing battle unless you happen to stumble upon the right broke person to come and cut, rake, bale, at some ridiculous price like 15$ (there's a guy or two here in South Georgia that would probably drive out to Texas and do it for ya) you will not save any amount of money. First thing you have to do is clean up that field, that's gonna take a dozer with a root rake. Then burn baby burn, then depending on soil moisture I would disc the field and take soil samples, actually I would take those first. You will find that you will need to get the ph up more than likely, now Is the time to add lime. Next you need to level the field, I hired a guy with a mortorgrader to do mine, a smooth field is a happy field, no matter whether cutting or equine, it's happier days when smooth. If grazing you might want to consider Baha'i, easy to establish from seed, likes any soil.....for hay it's probably gonna be one of the hybrid Bermuda grasses, which means a lot more input costs, money, that's where the part about not saving money comes in, those costs are high, equipment is costly. If I happen to see local village idiot around I'll tell him to give you a shout, if his tractor ain't broke, or the baler has a bad bearing, he's gonna prolly want/need an advance.......good luck, hope this helps
 

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I use to live in blackland. When we were selling I asked my wife if she wanted to raise hay or cattle. She said she was tired of taking of those little babies. We moved to sandy loam. I would graze it and depending on the number of stumps ... they need to be gone. I don't know the cost of grinding. How old are they. You can pour diesel on them and set them on fire. It will take them down into the roots. Need to check for a burn ban. Common Bermuda makes for good grazing with a little fertilizer. Not so much yield for hay. If you weren't so far I would do a little tradeing for hay. I got a little paint mare that needs some time that I don't have. Good Luck and don't forget to add the sulphur ... blackland is mostly alkaline.
 

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You said it's full of 'timber stumps'. I think my Daddy sold about 10 acres of pine stumps to Hercules to make gun powder, but that was probably 50 years ago. (The trees had been cut for pulp wood.) Just a thought, don't know if they still do that or not.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
i am still training horses. just trying to utilize the land i have available to me and save money in the long run. also improve the value of my land. definitely not going into the hay business on 12 acres
 

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Don't know about pricing down there but up here you will spend a lot of money to get timber ground into hayground in short order. Very easy if its grazed for a few years to let the stumps rot before the machinery comes in.

Every bit of pasture reduces your hay use too.
 

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I sold 17 acres of timber last fall. They hauled 52 semi loads of logs off that place. It was farming ground when I was a kid and I wanted it back into ag. I have dug and hauled away over one thousand stumps with 200 left to go. I did this over the winter with my own equipment.
I would have a back hoe come out and dig any larger stumps. If all stumps are small then you may get a local farmer to rip them up with a chisel plow. They will still need to be removed from the field.
A hay field is the dinner able of a farm. Hay fields need to be clean. The machinery used in a hay field is precision and expensive.
If you are able to pile and burn stumps and brush, bury or haul away what does not burn.

Call your local county extension agent. Their job is to help you. My local agent is great. They will send you a container for a soil test and tell you how to go about the process.
The extension agent will also know about the best grasses and more specifically for your area. My agent offers to come out to my place every time I call and ask a question. (I have been told not all are as willing)

If I intended to plant next Spring I would get the piles burned. I would ask a local farmer type if disking or chisel plowing would get up the smaller stumps.
I would plow/work the ground and get my lime worked into the soil now. It takes a while for lime to work. Let it get a head start.

Plan to fertilize at 300 lbs. per acre once a year and add 75-100 lbs per acre after each cutting of hay.
Ask around, even the extension agent, and see what the local price to cut, rake and bale cost. Being horses, you probably want square bales. When you eventually talk to a custom bale guy, find out what size bales he makes. Ask the approximate weight.

We have sprigged a good hybrid Bermuda and made two good cuttings the first year. Normally you should get at least 3 andmaybe 4 cuttings depending on your climate and rain fall.
You should expect 100 - 125 square bales per acre, per cutting on a quality Bermuda once it is established. Again your county agent will know more as they deal with farmers every day and are in the loop if they are worth their salt.

In the long haul it will probably pay off as a hay field. Getting it up and running is going to be an investment if you have to hire everything done. Once the field is established you will still have the yearly cost of fertilize cost to bale.
There is not nearly as much money in hay as most buyers believe.
There is money to be made. Also money to be lost.
The ducks need to be in a row and Mother Nature needs to smile on you every chance she gets.
 

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The way I do it is by using a track excavator and make like roads down thru the timbered land excavating stumps and piling them as you go. You are making a row of stumps. As I pop out the stumps, I work on getting all of the dirt off first before I pile them. The more dirt you remove, the easier and hotter the fire will be. At that point, I repile several rows of stumps if for some reason they did not burn up completely (dirt). In the end, you can bury any residue. I have also taken a grinder and ground 20 acres. I can do about 2-3 acres per day on a long day and pretty flat ground. It turns everything into mulch. I would recommend have it hired out. It is expensive to do with changing carbide teeth each day. Since I am continually clearing land ( in the winter) , I plant between the rows if necessary until I burn. I try to keep the ground covered even if it gets torn up later. I start to get the cleared land in order by using a 10' offset disc. I then use a 20' leveling disc follwed by a 12' perfecta II. Mike
 

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Every bit of pasture reduces your hay use too.
This made me think of something else. Winter Pasture.

For the last several years I have drilled annual winter grass into my pastures. This has really helped on how much hay my horses and cows eat.
It may just be me, but I do not seem to get quite the stand in my Bermuda as I do in my other pasture which only has mixed grasses. I do not have a "real" no till drill, just a cheap simi till drill. It does not cut the sod very well in Bermuda. I do get a stand, just not as thick as at the other place.
I am a bermuda grass fan. For me it is the best all around grass I have. I am biased as Bermuda was our main hay crop for many years.
Having said that, If I wanted to make the new ground pasture with an option to bale, I might consider a different grass. Bermuda is a warm weather grass. The Bahia is still green here. My bermuda is trying to hibernate.
For me, winter grass does better when sown on a less "carpet/sod" type grass than Bermuda.
I know Fescue is a cuss word for most horse owners. The new endophyte friendly fescues are claiming great results and are not toxic as some of the earlier Fescue was.
You can plant Fescue (cool weather grass) and Bahia (warm weather grass) and have pasture most months of the year. All clover or a winter grass and you can have grazing most months of the year.
Just thinking out loud and throwing out some options.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
That is not a bad idea.. I was mainly hoping to be able to make hay because the pasture isn't fenced and was trying to avoid having to fence it but if it starts looking like the hay is going to be too far fetched I may spend that money on fence and burn it off and go with the winter pasture grazing grasses.

What can y'all tell me about grants or cost share programs that may be available to me?
 

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The hay field idea is not far fetched. There are simply variables that may affect how quickly or well this plays out.

The most impressive part of this is that you are going in with both eyes open. It is a challenge to enter any new venture and get everything correct right off the bat.
You are being realistic, asking the right questions, not jumping in thinking it will work just because you want it to work.
It is not unusual for new comers to the side of Ag to see only the harvest days and get ideas of big returns.

My opinion would be to get the field cleaned up and grass established. I would plan to eventually fence the property.
You may be able to have the hay baled on shares to help in times when money is tight. Whether it is pasture or hay, it will still need to be cleaned up and planted.
Google your local county extension office and give them a call. I know some locals who get lime and fertilizer money every 4 years.
Some tend to want to help farmers, some will allocate the $ to a golf course and wait for T time.

Good luck in this endeavor. More hay/pasture and fewer houses is always a good thing in my book.
 
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