Mid-Season Tips For Cutting Quality Hay
Making quality hay despite environmental challenges – such as excessive heat and dry weather – is certainly the goal of both professional hay growers and individual farmers this summer. These conditions are posing some challenges for hay producers – but there are some simple steps that can be taken to help offset the impact.
Hesston has been in the quality hay business since 1947 and focuses on providing information to help customers optimize their hay quality. One of the first steps to quality hay is a clean, even cut – which Hesston Hay Products Marketing Manager Dean Morrell says can be achieved with any type of mower or conditioner:
“The sickle will give you more of a scissors cut, it’s a knife moving between a ledger plate to get a good clean cut. A disc machine is mainly an impact cut and it depends on how you hit the hay and how sharp your knife is.”
A clean, even cut is important because many customers like to have an inch to an inch-and-a-half high stubble for regrowth in alfalfa or some grasses. By getting that clean cut – Morrell says operators are using all possible forage growing in that field.
Since many producers are at least halfway through the hay season and many machines have seen a lot of acres – Morrell says there are many things producers should check to ensure their machines are giving them the best cut possible.
“ A lot of customers forget that when they go into the second cutting that the stem is finer and it’s a little harder to cut because the stem wants to move around a bit more. This is when you really need to make sure your sickles are sharp, your guards are in the right place, you have a good scissor action. On the disc machines it might be a good time to put new knives on the machine.”
The hot weather much of the U.S. has seen this summer takes its toll on the hay and equipment. Morrell says growers should check the oil, belts and everything else before the first and second cuttings – especially with the hot weather – to reduce the impact of heat on machine performance.
“If the machine is running low on oil or has too much oil it can affect performance. You need the right amount of oil in the gearbox at all times. The belts can also be affected after 2-3 years, especially in hotter weather.”
As many growers prepare for the next cutting – Morrell says the key to minimizing the impacts of hot, dry conditions on the hay quality is keeping machines in good shape and making sure adjustments are made.
Morrell says Hesston dealers are very knowledgeable on various products – and the more information they know about individual growers’ operations – the more they will be able to help. For even more information on Hesston by Massey Ferguson products – go to (www.Hesston.com).