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  1. #1
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    Default Planting hay for next year

    Have potential customer that wants to put 20-40 acres of field into hay. I'm cutting it for him now. The current field is tall grass/weeds gone to seed and a good dose of broadleaf weeds.

    This is a wealthy man with a tremendous home. He wants the hay for 2 reasons:
    1: He can get a considerable tax savings on the land portion of his property tax bill if he shows even a small amount of income from growing a crop.
    2: He wants the "look of a hayfield" just to make the scenery around his home look more like a farm setting.

    I am more than willing to make this happen for him. I can cut, rake or bale the hay for him and even sell the hay, but have little experience planting the hay. If I cut it now, I would just have baled weeds. However, I think if I cut the field very low in late November, spray the broadleaf weeds, lime & overseed, it could be hay even next season. He would let me keep the hay and sell it for whatever I can get for it.

    I don't know when to lime it or when to spray for weeds. I was going to seed when the frost is freezing/thawing the ground in january/Feb.

    Any suggestions on timing for everything or other suggestions?

  2. #2
    Elite Member smstonypoint's Avatar
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    Default Re: Planting hay for next year

    Quote Originally Posted by Builder View Post

    I am more than willing to make this happen for him. I can cut, rake or bale the hay for him and even sell the hay, but have little experience planting the hay. If I cut it now, I would just have baled weeds. However, I think if I cut the field very low in late November, spray the broadleaf weeds, lime & overseed, it could be hay even next season. He would let me keep the hay and sell it for whatever I can get for it.

    I don't know when to lime it or when to spray for weeds. I was going to seed when the frost is freezing/thawing the ground in january/Feb.

    Any suggestions on timing for everything or other suggestions?
    More questions than thoughts.

    Where are you?

    Most folks in the Southeast apply lime in late summer/early fall. Have you taken soil samples to determine how much lime is needed?

    Broadleaf herbicides work best when weeds are actively growing.

    What type of grass is in the field now?

    You may be able to get by without overseeding if there is enough of a grass "base," you fertilize and lime according to your soil test results, and you spray to take care of the broadleaf weed problem next spring/summer.*

    When to plant is going to depend on where you are and what grasses you are going to plant. For example, fescue can be planted in the early fall or spring, but typically does better when planted in the fall in my experience.

    Just my 2 cents worth.

    Steve

    Edit -- Make sure you read the herbicide label to determine if there are any restrictions on timing of applications to forages.

  3. #3
    Super Member RickB's Avatar
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    Default Re: Planting hay for next year

    You can't get meaningful input without posting your location.
    We have too much gun control.
    What we need is more idiot control.

  4. #4
    Elite Member smstonypoint's Avatar
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    Default Re: Planting hay for next year

    Another thought.

    The Agronomy/Crop Science Departments in some Land-Grant Universities publish "Forage Handbooks" or something similar. Check with your local Cooperative Extension office or Google to see if one is published for your state or region.

    Steve

  5. #5
    Super Member
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    Default Re: Planting hay for next year

    Quote Originally Posted by smstonypoint View Post
    Another thought.

    The Agronomy/Crop Science Departments in some Land-Grant Universities publish "Forage Handbooks" or something similar. Check with your local Cooperative Extension office or Google to see if one is published for your state or region.

    Steve
    That's where I'm heading next. We have one close by. I'm in PA

  6. #6
    Elite Member smstonypoint's Avatar
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    Default Re: Planting hay for next year

    Quote Originally Posted by Builder View Post
    That's where I'm heading next. We have one close by. I'm in PA
    Pick up some soil-sampling kits while you are there (assuming Penn State provides soil testing services in PA).

    Steve

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Planting hay for next year

    Thanks, will do.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Planting hay for next year

    Looks like you've gotten some good advice so far, a lot of what you need to do depends on just how bad of shape the field is actually in. We've put literally hundreds of acres into hay over the past couple decades so here's my take on it:

    If the field is in pretty good shape: (ground is fairly level, no stumps, saplings, etc, mostly just small weeds with a good stand of grass)

    Start by bush hogging it, then add any soil amendments needed. This isn't a good time of year to spray for broad leafs (early summer would be better), the plants need to be transpiring well to absorb the chemicals (needs to be warmer and wet so the plants are growing good). Sounds like you need to get this done quickly, but if you have a couple years to do it, just bush hogging the field several times a year will also obtain the desired results. The weeds can't handle the repeated mowing and the clippings will help to build up the organic matter in the soil.

    If you want to go one step further and have a really nice stand of hay, you could also either over seed it or kill off the current stand with herbicide and no-till in a new crop. We've done this too quite a bit, we use a 10' Lilliston sod-drill, it is much heavier than your average no-till drill and works well in pastureland, even if the soil is hard. You can spray roundup to kill the stand off then plant, or if you get the weeds under control just bush hog the field short and plant into that (over seed.)


    If the field is in really bad shape:

    Time to moldboard plow and start from scratch. Generally when we start with ground that has been fallow for a number of years this is what we do. The last field we did was grown up in 6' tall sweet gum saplings, ground terribly rough, lots of weeds, very little grass. First we bush hogged it a couple times a few months a part. Next we moldboard plowed it about 8-10" deep. This is deeper than you normally would plow, but there was enough topsoil so we weren't mixing in sub-soil and we also had to go that deep to bury all the trash such as the saplings, etc. For work like this you need a pretty large spring trip plow with good clearance or you will have it plugged up all the time. Next we went over it with a 13' tandem disc set in the most aggressive setting. After that it's time to pick up any rocks, sticks, junk, etc by hand. Also now is the time if there is any grading that needs to be done to do it. We usually touch up any waterways at this time, making sure there aren't any gullies, etc. Then spread any soil amendments you might need. Another trip over it with the disc, this time with a less aggressive setting and pulling a spike tooth harrow for the final leveling.

    After all this it's time to plant, what you plant will be decided by your region and what kind of hay you are looking to produce. Some of the things that we have used include: Tall Fescue, Orchard grass, Timothy, Perennial Rye grass, Crimson or Ladino Clover and Alfalfa. Sometimes Oats are also used when first establishing a field, they come up quick to hold the soil and also can be combined or made as oat hay for your first cutting. We use a 12' Brillion cultipacker seeder that has two sets of cultipackers and drops the seeds between them. We usually set the seeding rate to be half what is needed, go over the field once then go over it again at a 45* angle. If you don't have a seeder like this you can also broadcast it using a 3pt hitch spreader (not so good for tiny seeds like clover, etc) and go back and lightly go over it with a harrow to incorporate the seeds. Around here September or October are the months we put in hay ground, plenty of moisture to give the crop a good start.

    Hopefully some of this will be useful to you, aside from farming I also do quite a bit of seeding for my business. I'm not an expert by any means, but I put in my first hay ground when I was 13yrs old so I have a few years of experience.
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