Hay is an essential part of raising livestock and having a farm. While some farmers and agriculturalists can raise their own hay on their land, many have to supplement with purchased hay. In addition, those with a surplus of hay can make quite the profit off of selling bales to individuals or businesses. However, it is essential to have an excellent harvest if you want to take advantage of all of the benefits of raising this simple but necessary crop.
Check out these 4 awesome hay field tips for an excellent harvest!
Be Familiar With Your Field
Whether you are a seasoned hay grower and seller or a newbie fresh on the farm, it is important to realize that the quality of your soil and the hay field itself will dramatically impact the quality of the hay produced there. So, it is important to become intimately familiar with your field before, during, and after growing or cutting. Understanding what grows in your field, how it drains or holds water, or even spotting unwanted brush and plants for removal can give you a massive advantage. Regular scouting trips into the field can mean the difference between a great harvest and a poor one. Field quality is super important and cannot be overstated. After all, higher quality hay fetches a higher price!
Know Your Seed
There are many factors to consider when choosing the best seed for your hay field. Fortunately, you’ve been regularly scouting so you know you field in and out. Picking the best hay seed variety will greatly impact the quality of your harvest. For example, the level of irrigation available to your field is important. If you cannot irrigate your field and provide lots of water for your crop, all is not lost. Simply choose a seed variety that thrives in a drier climate. In addition, it is crucial to think about the end purpose of your hay crop. It is even important to consider what kind of animal will be fed with the crop as certain types of hay suit different kinds of livestock better than others.
Cutting your hay at the right time of the season is a great way to increase the quality of your harvest. This is because the amount of valuable crude protein in your hay can drop based on your crop’s stage of maturity when it is cut. If you wait too long to cut your hay, there may be more volume but the quality of your harvest could be poor. To make matters even more tricky, harvesters have the weather to consider when they are setting out to cut their hay. For example, harvesting hay after a few dry days and the hay is not too moist is ideal. Who wants to harvest in the rain, anyway?
Keep Your Equipment Clean
Although it is very important to know your field, understand your seed, and cut at a smart time, using working equipment is also very important to have a good hay harvest. One of the basics of good equipment maintenance practices that are often overlooked is equipment cleanliness. A dirty tractor or harvester can fail due to debris and neglected wear and tear. In addition, if there is a leak or some other visible issue, they are often not spotted until it is too late on dirty equipment. Focusing on cleaning equipment is one of the most important preventative maintenance measures a hay expert can participate in while maintaining their equipment.
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