The timothy crop at Sugar Creek Farms in Dansville, NY, was 8” tall by the end of April. Owner Phil Saunders could hardly believe it. “A lot of years, we can still have snow on the ground at that time,” he says. “We’re getting off to a great start.”

Saunders markets his hay, produced on 400 acres, in 65-lb small square bales. In a typical year, he works with three or four brokers to sell hay to horse owners, stables and racetracks along the East Coast from New York City to Florida.

Unusually warm March temperatures, combined with mostly dry conditions, allowed Saunders to get a good jump on his fertilization program this year. “We had everything topdressed by the first of April. Last year, the spring was so wet we weren’t able to get any fertilizer on about 60% of our crop.”

With overall hay acreage lagging behind historical levels in many parts of the country, Saunders looks for prices to stay strong in the year ahead. Last year, he sold his entire crop at $240/ton. “Enough people have now taken ground out of hay to plant corn and soybeans that it’s going to be hard for supplies to come back much. That does nothing but help the hay farmer.”

To contact Saunders, call 585-335-8664 or email haygrower@rocketmail.com.