Hay growers in Maine have battled tough weather conditions throughout the 2013 growing season.
It’s been a challenging year and then some for farmers in Maine to put up good-quality hay.
“From June on, we’ve had very few extended periods without rainfall,” says Rick Kersbergen, ag agent with University of Maine Extension in Waldo County. “It’s been hard to find three to four days in a row where you can get hay cut and dried. And a lot of fields are still very wet, making it hard to get on them without making ruts.”
Farmers in Kersbergen’s region typically take two to three cuttings of grass or legume-grass hay each year. “This year, though, we have some fields that haven’t had their first cutting taken off yet. And here we are getting to the end of August.”
Buyers looking for lower-quality hay shouldn’t have much trouble locating a supply this year, he adds. Those who need higher quality will likely have to do some searching. “There just isn’t a lot of it around. That’s likely to have some impact on prices.”
Along with visual inspections for mold or dust, he advises buyers to ask for NIR analyses. The cost is $16-18/sample. “It’s always a good investment, but especially so in a year like this,” he says. “You have to know the nutrient value of the hay you’re getting so you can fine-tune rations accordingly. It will also give you a good basis for evaluating hay prices.”
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