How to Speed Up Your Hay Harvest
As you know, hay is one of the key ingredients in livestock feed, making it a crucial but tedious and sometimes frustrating harvesting process. Luckily, we’ve found some time-saving solutions, so your hay harvest doesn’t have to be so long-lasting. With the right equipment, suitable sunlight and proper cutting processes, your hay harvest can take only a fraction of the time.
1. Harvest at Maturity
Wouldn’t it would be nice to be able to harvest hay whenever it’s most convenient for you? Unfortunately, the reality is harvesting hay at the wrong time can lead to lower nutritional value and overall lower forage yield. For high-quality hay harvests, you need to harvest earlier than you may think.
The nutritional value of hay is at its peak earlier in the growing season. As plants continue to grow, their nutrients can become trapped in indigestible cell walls, bringing down the quality of the hay. Produce the best hay by aiming to harvest grasses at the boot stage. Cutting the grass at an early stage also allows for a potential second harvest to occur before the summer months.
The time of day you harvest your grass also plays a role in the quality of your hay harvest. Sugars are highest in the late afternoon, so it may be strange to hear you should actually harvest well before this time of day. Giving the hay enough time to properly cure or dry is crucial, so harvesting in the mid to late morning is ideal, especially in rainy locations. Before you start chopping, though, make sure any dew has dried from the plant.
2. Maximize Sunlight Exposure
Drying is an important part of the hay harvesting process. Allowing your grass harvest to soak up the sun helps the grass completely dry.
Think of drying your hay like drying clothes — you wouldn’t leave everything in a pile and expect it to quickly and evenly dry. The clothes in the middle or bottom of the pile will most likely still be wet while the top of the pile is dry. The same idea goes for drying hay.
Evenly spread out the hay so each piece is exposed to the sun and can dry properly. For every ton of hay, around three tons of moisture needs to be removed.
Poor weather conditions are the greatest challenge when trying to dry your harvest. Rainy, humid and cloudy weather makes it harder for the crop to dry. If you continuously face these weather issues, a preservative may help your hay drying process.
Preservatives can prevent mold growth and allow hay to be baled with a slightly higher moisture content than typically needed for dry hay baling. Of course, it’s still always best to get your hay as dry as possible through sunlight exposure.
3. Cut at the Proper Height
Cutting your hay at the proper height is important for a quality harvest and crop regrowth. The perfect height can vary by plant, but in general, aim for 3 to 4 inches above the ground for cool-season grasses, 2 to 4 inches for alfalfa and 8 to 10 inches for warm-season grasses.
When you cut at the correct height, you can expect to see the following benefits:
- Faster regrowth
- Improved stand persistence
- Quicker subsequent cutting
- Better airflow
- Rapid drying
Hay that’s cut too low can lead to patchy regrowth and nutritional deficiencies. This happens because root energy reserves are drained, so they’re unable to support proper, healthy regrowth. However, if you cut your hay at the correct height, you shouldn’t have to worry about any of this.
4. Use Quality Equipment
Proper equipment is sure to make a difference in the efficiency and quality of your hay harvest. Pequea offers high-quality equipment sure to make a difference in your next hay harvest. Review some of our stand-out equipment below and see how they can positively impact your harvesting process.
Tedder and Forage Equipment
Pequea offers a wide range of tedder and forage equipment, so you can always find equipment suitable for your needs. The Pequea tedder and forage equipment range includes:
- Hay TurboTedders™: Our heavy-duty Hay TurboTedders come in four-, six- and eight-rotor models, making even heavy hay no match for this machine. This unique rotary tedder has carbo-austempered finger joints, round tube arms and asymmetrical tine configuration, which makes it ideal for delivering an ideal and efficient sweep action.
- X-Series Hay Tedder: If you’re looking for a more economical option without losing any power or features, the X-Series Hay Tedder is an excellent option. This tedder comes in three variations — the 26X, 46X and 66X. So, whether you’re working on a small or large amount of land, there’s an X-Series Hay Tedder that can get the job done.
- Fluffer Hay Tedder: Enjoy gentle aeration, faster hay drying and more even cures with the Fluffer Hay Tedder. This unique Fluffer Hay Tedder includes eight adjustable reel settings, rubber-mounted fingers and automatic tine angle adjustments.
Pequea rake equipment is easy-to-use equipment with advanced engineering that increases productivity. Specifically, our line of Rotary Hay Rakes minimizes leaf loss while also quickly drying crops and overall optimizing harvest production. Our Rotary Hay Rakes come in four different models, with the main difference being size.
A more low maintenance farming equipment option to our Rotary Hay Rakes are our highly-adaptable Wheel Rakes. Wheel Rakes provide greater raking width per dollar spent. This equipment is ideal for large quantities of dry hay because the product can quickly and efficiently move through the crop, keeping your productivity levels high. Our Wheel Rakes come in two size options, so you can get the size that works best for you.
Shop Pequea Equipment Today
Are you ready to speed up your hay harvest with high-quality Pequea farming equipment? All of our products are proudly built in the United States and are designed to serve our customers and their needs. Our goal is to make your harvesting easier and more successful, so we’ve listened to real farmers and used our own farming expertise to deliver products that work for you.
We ensure our products are built to last by using the best quality parts and equipment. Find a Pequea dealer near you and shop our hay farming equipment today to experience the difference a quality product can make.