Thomas Ridgeway was all smiles early last week when he heard the extended weather forecast for his Alabama area.
“They’re calling for low humidity and high temperatures in the nineties,” he says. “It will be the first good haying weather we’ve had in months around here. There will be a lot of hay made in Alabama this week.”
At Circle R Farms near Fyffe, Ridgeway puts up small squares of bermudagrass hay on 84 acres, and net-wrapped, large round bales of cool-season grass hay on another 600 acres. Most of his bermudagrass production is earmarked for the local horse market. His round bales go to beef producers.
The region, Ridgeway says, has had “way too much water. We were late getting started on our first crop, and it’s been pretty much of a mess through the whole season. Ordinarily, we’d be on our third cutting of bermudagrass right now. But we’re just finishing up on second. We’ve had to sit still a lot because of all the rain.”
He’s hoping to get a third cutting. “But that could be pushing it. It all depends on how long the weather stays warm and how late the frost is.”
An August outbreak of bermudagrass stem maggot also set Ridgeway’s bermudagrass back. “We’ve never had any trouble with it here before,” he says. “The grass that’s damaged by it looks like it’s been frost-damaged. It has that burned look it gets sometimes when you fertilize with liquid nitrogen. We sprayed it once, waited 10 days, then sprayed again.”
While bermudagrass production throughout the area has been down, Ridgeway plans to keep his prices at last year’s levels for the time being. For 50- to 55-lb small square bales, he’s getting $4.75/bale picked up in the field and $5/bale for barn-stored hay. For rounds, he’s charging $50/roll. Cool-season grass hay picked up in the field sells for $28-30/roll.
Ridgeway can be contacted at 256-601-6120 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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