A metal rod – and diligence in using it – could save hay growers from disastrous hay fires, suggests David Torsell, Jr., Ohio State University emergency management and agricultural rescue program manager.
Hay thermometers are commercially available, but a metal rod driven into a haystack is also an effective way to monitor heat.
“Leave it in there awhile,” he explains. “When you pull it out, if it’s too hot to handle, then they have a problem.” Repeated monitorings at random places within each hay lot are recommended.
When farmers detect high heat in hay, the temptation is to immediately remove the bales from the barn. But an internal bale temperature of more than 150º is dangerous and, at 170º, hay can spontaneously combust. Moving bales will introduce air to smoldering hay and fire can spread quickly.