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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey everyone!

So, little background- I'm 19, putting myself through college and working towards eventually getting a PhD in Agronomy at KSU. I grew up in town, but have helped out on my cousins' and friends' farms, and am working this summer for a crop research company doing test plots. One of the big things one of my Ag professors has stressed is how hard it is to get started farming, especially without having 640+ acres (one of the farms I worked on is about 5000). So, I've been brainstorming niche markets and non-traditional farming techniques and stumbled across something I think could keep me afloat (maybe even out of debt) through school. I can get a temporary permit (1 year, renewable on a first-come, first-serve basis) to hay native grasses, and would be able to keep (read: sell) all of it myself. Here come in the questions...

1) How many acres could a one-man operation do? Keep in mind, I'd like to limit myself to 90 hour weeks if possible (in line with current job).

2) What equipment would be suggested? I won't need to plant, so I'm thinking tractor, baler, hay rake, disc mower attachment would be about right. Keep in mind, the land would be limited in width to probably no more than 100 feet, and somewhat sloped towards the outside.

3) What prices could I expect for this native grass hay? I'm thinking it'd all be low-end cattle feed, so maybe $100-110/ton?

4) Do you think this would pencil out, or would it be safer to try to keep getting summer jobs on a private farm and working for the university during the school year?

Note: as far as availability for acreage is concerned, I'm almost certain I could lock up at least 1000 if needed.
 

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School at K State, working and still want to hay on your own... that is a work load. I am 46, working fulltime, and attemping to farm 440 acres I just bought, yes Vol I did it. I am not sure I could throw anymore at myself, mainly a Phd program of any type. Good luck, mainly since wy wife is a Wildcat...
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
For clarification, if I could pencil it out, I'd be working the 90 hrs haying instead of the farmhand thing. I'm not sure how many cuttings I'd have to do, but I figure if I can cut one week solid at a time things should work out okay for baling. I was thinking that 640 doing 2 tons @ $90/t would be about $115,000, equipment maybe $40,000 used, $5,000 alloted for fuel, repairs another $5k/yr (lord, I hope not) would still leave me $65k to make it through the year, as well as putting back a couple bucks for after I finish my degree.
 

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I don't know much about harvesting native grasses, but I know your professor is wrong about needing 640 acres or more to get started in farming.
 

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Welcome Shook...I admire your outlook and K-State is a great school. I archery hunt North Central Kansas West of Manhattan. If I could go back in time and reset my clock I would apply to school at either Purdue or K-State....probably K-State in the end due to the outstanding wildlife in your state. I really enjoy my forays in Kansas. We have several members on haytalk from Kansas, but Nitram is a regular who does hay and does utilize some native grass hay. He should be along soon. Keep up the great outlook and always figure profits on the conservative side and expenses on the high side and then you will most likely come out on the good side. Remember that working on paper and working in the field are not the same.....the first year ease into a new venture....get the feel....then make your moves forward.

Regards, Mike
 

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School at K State, working and still want to hay on your own... that is a work load. I am 46, working fulltime, and attemping to farm 440 acres I just bought, yes Vol I did it. I am not sure I could throw anymore at myself, mainly a Phd program of any type. Good luck, mainly since wy wife is a Wildcat...
Congratulations!.....you will enjoy your new life and your doing it at a great point in your life.

Best Regards, Mike
 

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Welcome! Can't offer any suggestions as your situation is different from ours. I do know things on paper vary greatly from real life. How much time have you spent helping out on farms? Practically living the haying life during hay season or coming in for a few hours? Will you have a place for storage of equipment?

from Jeff: "you've got an uphill battle, hope you have someone very knowledgable there that will help coach you along"

Glad you're interested in farming. Let us know what you decide.

Shelia
 

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Looks and sounds good.........on paper. You've left out several details transportation, storage and labor. To me 640 acres is huge. The equipment needed to handle that kind of acreage would eat up your allocation in a hurry. The fertlize bill alone would be over 50,000. Money is tight now. If you walk into a bank now as a 19 year old and expect them to loan you upwards of 100k without any substantial collateral, you goin be badly fooled. I think you need to concentrate on school, and keep these goals in mind when you get out. I commend you for wantin to farm, but hay is one of the harder crops to produce in quality and you have that to get top dollar.
 

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Hay Master
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We need to talk! Generally prairie hay isn't fertilized around here but the dry spell has it closer to one ton last year. This year in places has been better. If you are starting out I would 1. Get maybe 80 acre patch to learn on with smaller less expensive machines. 2. Never ever cut all you got at one time ie more than you can bale in a day. You may want to go fast go big...but until you've been kicked in the pants by momma nature and or Murphy's law I'd advise against it. We do have long windows during prairie hay season Here but learn more about leaf shatter curing times and optimum baling moisture content and apply it to grass. I learn much on here every day! These guys are super helpful at Hay talk. My production is grown in quality now quantity is next! Hope this helps and feel free to message me if you wish
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks for the input so far everyone! I've got a lot to learn yet, I know, but hopefully the collective insight of this community can cut down my learning curve :)

I've got a little bit of capital to start off with, and I'm not too concerned about my ability to get a loan (but maybe I should be? yikes!). If you could completely take out land and fertilizer costs, would those of you with experience shoot for quantity or quality for your grass hay (prarie, brome, fescue, et al.)? Would you get better total revenue typically for

1) 500 tons of hay with an RFV of 120

or 2) 300 tons of the same, but with a RFV of 155?

Thanks again,

J. Shook
 

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Hay Master
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Know your customers... brome horse folks primarily = quality. Prairie hay =cow/beef folks = quantity mostly. These are not absolutes
 

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JM....welcome to hay talk, I admire your drive.....however, you have little idea of what it takes to make 500 tons of hay.....it looks like a good round figure but starting off...one man.......college....am I missing something.....take option number 4....you can thank me later...
 

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A bachelors degree basically translated means, " the ability to do research". Persue this!

Make sure you have this ability down solid, with or without the piece of paper. I applaud your attatude, just make sure you don't go into debt on a whim. Trust a stranger if they say that there will always be hay to be made next year.
 

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I myself are not too terribly far from you in terms of distance, education, age (9 yrs), work, etc. I did go to school, play baseball, and farm at the same time. I can tell you its do able but its a lot to do. Organization is the key, along with late nights. I dont want to discourage you, so take everything with a grain of salt but try to absorb as much as you can. First off, there is a difference in "Prairie Hay",brome, and native grass. These are all different types of grass. So I would ask, who are your customers? And what are you customers wanting? You need to find customers (Business) and locate a market before you do anything. Without a customer, how will you be able to make money? Or more importantly, sell your product? Where your located, I would assume the "horse" market wont be much of an option as your not located near a big city with lots of horse ppl etc. Most people in your area are prob putting their own hay up. Looks like your looking at the cattle market. Ok. Who is your customer? Feed lots? cow-calf guys? Are you going to deliver? Are you going to have a loader available? Etc. Without a business plan, your not getting a loan. Myself, and the rest of the guys on here can help you. I'd say you need to do some more research before you get ahead of yourself. I would also research hay market reports. I can promise you, the numbers your talking about wont add up.
 

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JM, first of all I reread my post and it sounded harsh, I want to say it was not ment to be. Little life story on me. I was born and raised on a 5000 acre row crop farm. We farmed cotton, rice, wheat soybeans and milo. My Grandfather was a wise businessman and owned a couple cotton gins also. I went to play college football and got my degree in ag engineering. After graduating I was what you are describing today. I took a full time job as a firefighter, I know that is my major right, and starting farming 620 acres of row crops. I lived in the south and planned my roation where I harvested 3 crops ever 12 months, got to love wheat beans. I thought I was the man, nice equipment, nice truck, pretty girlfriend then one year I didn't make enought to pay my loans off and didn't get the bank too extend me. I am sitting there wondering how to make it.. 8 weeks later I was out of farming. I was lucky, I had a job and had enough equity in my expensive equipment to pay everyone off... so the moral of your this long post is learn from us, get your education, move slow and live like you are broke until you don't owe a soul... there off my soapbox now... good luck..
 
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