Agriculture News by Jason Garrett, UT Extension Agent

With acres of hay in Overton ready to harvest, forage producer’s eyes and ears are fixed on weather forecasts and just waiting for a few days of dry weather to start hay harvest and avoid the chances of cut hay getting wet. This can be hard to dodge with the occasional pop up showers that the weather man failed to mention. It’s a real headache to try to get rained on cut hay dried up enough to bale before the next rain shower emerges. Also, most hay producers store their hay in enclosed areas. If you experienced any additional moisture from rain, or did not let forage cure long enough in the field before you baled, you had best check the bales moisture and temperature before you store it.

Moisture soaked hay bales can heat up, especially when stacked in barns with limited air flow. Bales that you think are ok can gain higher temperatures in storage. Hay bales need to have a temperature reading of 125 degrees or lower and a moisture content of 18% or lower when stored. Hay stored with temperature and moisture contents higher than the safe amounts can spontaneously combust and cause barn fires. Don’t risk losing barns, sheds, and your winter hay supply by storing uncertain bales.

Overton UT Extension has a moisture/temperature probe and can assist hay producers with advice on questionable bales. For any information on forage production call Overton Extension at 823-2735 and UT Extension offers equal opportunities in programs and employment.