The hay harvest season in east-central Ohio should have started about three weeks ago. But a lack of good drying weather has kept many growers on the sidelines.
“For the last month or so, we’ve been getting rain every three days, and the nights have been cool,” says grower Joe Celuch, of Frazeysburg. “And with the hay getting more mature, we’re looking at a drydown time of about five days right now. It should be around three to four days.”
Celuch and his fiancé, Brenda Butler, own Beagle Hill Farms. Along with a 70-head cow-calf operation, they also put up alfalfa, alfalfa-grass and mixed-grass hay on 300 acres. They market about 50% of their production, in small square bales weighing 45-52 lbs, to small horse and livestock operations throughout the Midwest and Southeast. The rest of their hay is put up in round bales for their beef herd.
For the marketing year ahead, Celuch and Butler plan to keep their hay prices where they’ve been the last two years, at $5-7/bale, depending on quality. “We base our prices on our input costs and, so far, they’ve been holding pretty steady,” says Celuch.
But they’re concerned that the slow start could hamper production later in the season. “If we start getting into some hot weather, it will limit the regrowth on our second and third cuttings. Historically, we’ve been able to make some hay in October, but in the last couple of years we’ve been shut down by Labor Day.”
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