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A sunny, hot day for making hay

Bruce Anderson Published on 15 May 2011

Some years it’s difficult to find decent haymaking weather. Sunny, hot, dry and breezy – that’s the prescription for good haymaking, along with using practices that can help the process.

Immediately after cutting hay, plant cells continue to respire, converting valuable carbohydrates into carbon dioxide gas.

Under the best conditions, around 5 percent of the potential weight of the hay will be lost as a gas. It’s unavoidable.

When hay dries slowly, though, as much as 10 or even 15 percent of your hay can simply disappear into thin air as carbon dioxide.

Getting hay off the field quickly also helps regrowth by allowing new growth to begin without cut hay lying on top of it or machinery driving over it as it starts to regrow.

To help hay dry faster, cut during good weather and follow these practices.

• Mechanically condition and then spread recently cut hay out in as wide a swath as possible. The more hay exposed to direct sunlight, the faster it dries.

• Don’t drive on it because wheels compress the hay and reduce drying rates.

• Turn hay gently after the top gets dry by adjusting angles, speed or position on the rake to expose moister hay under the swath and fluff the swath for better air movement inside.

Fast hay drydown is a goal of all haymakers. Good timing and proper equipment operations go a long way toward achieving this goal.  FG

From University of Nebraska – Lincoln Extension Crop Watch newsletter

Bruce Anderson
Extension Forage Specialist
University of Nebraska – Lincoln