Making hay while the sun (occasionally) shines

Media Release

25 November 2019

Making hay while the sun (occasionally) shines

Weather conditions will determine if a hay crop is ready for baling- not the time since it was cut.

Correct curing is important. It could be the difference between a quality shed of fodder or a potential haystack fire.

This timely reminder from the Australian Fodder Industry Association (AFIA) comes as more southern Australian farmers are taking advantage of bumper seasonal conditions and cutting excess crops or pasture for hay.

While the seasonal conditions have led to excess crops and pasture, it has also made it particularly difficult to cure hay.

AFIA director and Mallee hay producer David Cossar said patience was a virtue for hay production.

“You hear so many stories of farmers saying to contractors, ‘my hay is ready, you need to get here and bale it’,” he said.

“They get there, and it is not ready. Some people think it’s ready because it has been down a certain number of days. It is not about days; it is about weather conditions. Sometimes it could take three weeks, sometimes it will happen in 10 to 12 days, it really depends on how hot it gets and the humidity.”

Tractors have been busy in paddocks in recent days with a run of warm conditions, but Mr Cossar said the cooler forecast following could impact hay curing.

He encouraged growers to seek advice about curing times or consider hay preservative products that enable higher-moisture baling.

“There has been a swing to hay production and some of these people who have started making hay have been croppers,” Mr Cossar said. “It’s pretty easy cropping, you come in after the crop. But with hay you could pass over it up to six times before it’s finished. Cutting, raking, baling, carting, accumulating and stacking. There’s a lot of work in hay, you don’t want it to go up in flames.”

Mr Cossar is a 50-year veteran of the hay industry- here are some of his tips.

  • You aren’t finished once it’s baled, continue to monitor the stack.
  • Use a probe to check the temperature inside a bale, or the “tried and tested” crowbar method – If it’s too hot to hold the bar after its been inserted into the bale, the bale is at risk of combustion.
  • The node in an oaten hay crop will be the last bit to cure. To test if they are full cured, place a few on the towbar of the ute and “whack” them with a hammer. If there’s moisture, its’ not cured. Nodes can also be “snapped”, if they can’t snap, they aren’t ready. • Consider a hay preservative with applicable fodder crops.

For more information on hay production or safety please contact the AFIA office on (03) 9670 0523.

Media Contact:

John McKew
Chief Executive Officer
W: (03) 9670 0523
M: 0438 182 600
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