Hay growers can control some aspects of harvesting in wet conditions. Dan Undersander, University of Wisconsin Extension forage agronomist, offers a few tips.
First, if harvesting mature hay, growers should adjust their mowers’ cutting heights so regrowth isn’t damaged.
“If they cut it their normal height, it will cut off the regrowth and set back second-cutting yield,” he explains. “You should check your field to see if there are new shoots coming up, and then to try to cut above that level.” That could mean cutting 6” or higher, he warns.
Second, growers should spread harvested hay in wide swaths to dry more quickly.
“A lot of people are worried about putting it over wet soil. But at least you have the top portion intercepting sunlight. If you put it in a (narrow) windrow, only the surface of the windrow is drying and the inside stays as wet as when you cut it.”
Third, Undersander suggests growers lighten their loads when hauling forage from fields.
“It may be time to take partial loads,” he says. “It slows harvesting, but at least you’re not leaving deep ruts in the fields.”