Want to bale your hay sooner to cut the risk of rain damage? Ted it, suggests Mike Collins, University of Kentucky agronomist.

Tedding can shave up to a full day off drying time, says Collins.

"It should be almost a universal part of the haymaking process," he states. "In the great majority of hay curing situations, the advantages of using a tedder far outweigh the disadvantages associated with it."

Collins has done extensive research on ways to speed hay drying in humid regions. He says tedding spreads the crop over the entire ground area for maximum exposure to the sun; makes a thin, fluffy layer so more hay is exposed to dry air; and breaks up slow-drying hay clumps.

Prudent timing of the tedding operation can keep leaf loss in legumes at reasonable levels, says Collins.

"I like to do it on the first day of the process, but not immediately behind the mower-conditioner," he says. "Tedding does a better job of spreading the crop out if there’s been some wilting time. It also works well to come back early in the morning just before the dew is gone on almost any day of the process."

The wrong time, he adds, is in the afternoon of any day. Even if the swathed crop is still quite wet, a few hours of sunshine can dry the top layer of leaves, making them prone to shattering.