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How to Grow Hay Bales

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How to Grow Hay Bales

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Overview

Hay is a farm crop used for thousands of years for a variety of uses. Hay is used to feed livestock, as bedding or as mulch for gardens and lawns. Baling hay is the method used to prepare hay for transport and storage. Hay is grown and harvested with specific farming tools in conjunction with a tractor.

Step 1

Choose the land you will be growing the hay crop on. It can be slightly sloping or level, as long as a tractor can easily move across the terrain. Choose land that has a large enough area for the crop.

Step 2

Take samples of the soil from various points across the entire area of the field. You will need at least three or more samplings. Take these to your local agricultural extension service for testing. They can give you a detailed nutrient guide for the soil and advise you on how to achieve optimal results for your crop.

Step 3

Research the seeds that would best grow in the soil of your field. Prarie seed can grow almost anywhere, but lacks the nutrient value of Brome seed. Specialty hays must be matched to the soil type for them to produce adequate harvests. Buy the seeds from a reputable seller who has a track record and history.

Step 4

Use the tractor with a disk to break up the soil. Work the soil once per week for one month to break up large clumps, expose weed roots to dry out and aerate the soil. Plow when the soil is dry.

Step 5

Plant the seed during a calm day because wind can carry the seed, causing loss of seeds. Use a measurement of 2 to 3 pounds of seed per each 1,000 square feet of field. New fields can take slightly more seed per acre to help germination. Use a roller or tires attached to the rear of the tractor to help push the seed down into the soil; this will also help improve germination.

Step 6

Let the hay grow through the summer until it reaches 18 to 24 inches tall. Fertilize the hay crop when the plants are still young to increase harvest during the first year of planting. Hay can mature within three years before the field needs replanting. Winter hay may produce seedlings before going dormant. Spring hay germinates faster.

Step 7

Use the grass cutter, hay rake and hay baler to cut and bail the crop. Pull the cutter along behind the tractor to cut the crop close to the ground. Let the crop dry for 24 hours when no rain is forecast. Rake the dried hay into continuous windrows. Pull the baler along behind the tractor to bale the dried hay.

Things You'll Need

  • Large grass field
  • Farm tractor
  • Hayseed
  • Hay cutter
  • Hay rake
  • Hay baler

References

  • John Deere: Haymaking 101
Keywords: hay farming, growing hay, baling hay

About this Author

Jack S. Waverly is a Pennsylvania-based freelance writer who has written hundreds of articles relating to business, finance, travel, history and health. His current focus is on pets, gardens, personal finance and business management. Waverly has been writing online content professionally since 2007 for various providers and websites.

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