The fourth wettest May on record has kept many Tennessee hay growers from harvesting first crop, reports Larry Jones, Oakland, TN.

“It’s been a horrible start to the season,” says Jones, who puts up a fescue-clover-orchardgrass hay mix, along with bermudagrass hay, on 800 acres. “Last month, we were getting rain every three or four days. Then, on the first of June, we got another 2.5”, with more rain in the forecast.”

Cool temperatures have also been especially tough on the bermudagrass. “We usually try to get going on our bermudagrass harvest by the end of May or the start of June, but it’s been so cold. There’s been very little growth.”

Jones’ primary market is horse owners within 35 to 40 miles of his farm. Traditionally, he’s packaged most of his hay in 50- to 55-lb small square bales. But, in recent years, he’s also been making more large round and medium square bales.

His small squares sell for $180/ton at the barn and $225/ton delivered, while larger bales go for $140/ton at the barn – priced much as they were the past year.

“Right now, demand is still pretty good because there isn’t a lot of new crop hay being made,” he says. “We’ll see what happens when it finally warms up. I don’t see prices going too much higher, though. A lot of the horse folks are still struggling with the economy.”

To contact Jones, call 901-229-0720 or email gjonesnpm@gmail.com.

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