Meredith MacKeen, LJI
Making hay this year has been extremely frustrating due to the quantity of rain, unlike last year when it was sunny and dry and presented a different challenge.
The fields are so saturated that “tractors just cut the mud” says Loren Allen of Burnby Farm, West Bolton. Added to this problem is the lack of drying time for the hay to mature. Larry Frizzle of Larrymead Farm, Ironhill agrees and adds: “poor quality hay lacks protein.”
So, the farmers will have to supplement the diet for beef and dairy cattle with expensive grains.” Horses have to eat dry hay and so it will be more of an expense to find the necessary fodder for them. If the farmer had equipment to make silage, early in the season the green hay was rolled up and covered with plastic. If not, then the farmer baled dry hay into squares. These require good sunny dry days and reasonably dry ground so that the hay does not absorb moisture from the bottom.
Making hay is expensive. Start with the costs of operating a tractor and the equipment needed to cut, spread and bale the hay, add the price of fuel, fertilizer and possibly insecticides and the cost of plastic to cover the rolls, (about $120 to $140 for 30 rolls) and so the bills mount up.
Other crops are also suffering from the abundance of rain and the inability to access them with heavy machinery that sinks into the sodden ground. Farmers are collectively praying for more sun and less rain to save their harvesting season.