“All those fields, we got them in just in time,” he says. “The weather forecasts do not hold. They predict longer periods of sun.”
After each cutting of a hay field, the hay needs to dry in the sun for a day or two – depending on conditions -- before it is bailed and put away in the barn. Often, deciding when to cut hay becomes a calculation of risk and reward, and the end game is often a race against a looming rainstorm to get the hay stored safely before it is soaked and ruined.
So far, by just inching out a few rainstorms, Howell Farm’s haying operation has been lucky. Or, depending on how you look at it, they’ve been good.
On Friday, Farmer Rob used a tractor to replant one of Howell Farm’s hay fields with fescue. Traditionally, the farm plants Timothy hay, but over the past several years there has been a problem. Farmer Rob explains:
“Cereal Rust Mite has reduced longevity in our Timothy fields. Fields that should last five years are declining more rapidly. The major symptom is curled leaves like corn in a drought, but even when the field is moist. Tall Fescue is apparently less susceptible. We planted a field a couple years ago and just planted another.”