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Old 09/27/09, 09:16 PM
JWK JWK is offline
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: central New York
Posts: 228
What area of the country is best for growing hay?

My wife and I were discussing our search for acreage and how important it will be for us to grow our own hay. This got us to thinking: Where is the best hay growing areas? Where we are (the damp northeast) the hay grows great. Three cuttings easily. The problem is drying it. We hardly ever get four or five days of nice sunny, dry weather. Most farms around here have gone to plastic wrapped sileage.

So if your number one priority is to grow good hay and dry it, where do you go? Every main geographic area we look at seems to have it's own challenges, but there must be areas that are best overall.

This is mostly for information's sake, but we are going to be a bit free to move in a year or two. It might be a factor!

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Old 09/27/09, 09:33 PM
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I would say Wisconsin seems like a pretty good hay growin' state
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Old 09/27/09, 09:40 PM
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In central Washington, the Kittitas Valley (area around Ellensburg)is known internationally for the quality of it's timothy hay. The Tri Cities area is well known for it's alfalfa hay.
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Old 09/27/09, 09:56 PM
Join Date: Aug 2005
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Hay will grow in a majority of states, includeing Okla, What do u intend to do for grain? corn? places that will grow core is much more limited. Might want to try to figure what livestock you would have, and how much corn you would feed them. Then add that to a years feeding, then go find out what corn costs to buy it. Might supprise ya, if u dont like spending money, that is.
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Old 09/27/09, 09:59 PM
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Southeast South Dakota! I am originally form WI...lived in MN...never seen hay like this before!! Wowzer! We have lot's of sunshine here....all winter long. None of those day after day after day dreary gloominess that we had in WI and MN. We don't have the trees though either..I really miss those! And it's very windy here. We have one of the nations largest hay auctions real close by in Iowa...I have purchased hay there and use their sales info for a price guideline
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Old 09/28/09, 07:34 AM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: north central nebraska
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North central nebraska, Rock and Holt counties area.
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Old 09/28/09, 09:16 AM
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I have never seen such high protein hay as what is grown in AZ. So high in protein it is off the protein charts. 26 to 28% and it can be cut and baled at the optimum point of growth. Drying is NO problem at all.
When I worked at a horse boarding stable in AZ. we would get 6 to 8 Semi Loads to stock up and getting a good price per ton also.
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Old 09/28/09, 10:45 AM
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Originally Posted by vinylfloorguy View Post
North central nebraska, Rock and Holt counties area.
Exactly where I was going to say! lol
Just wet enough for hay to grow really well (especially prairie hay), but still dry enough that you don't have to turn hay because it's so humid.
Nor is it so dry that you have to bale alfalfa at midnight after the dew has set in.

I've lived all over the northern High Plains and hands down, that was the best area for hay.

Last edited by ErinP; 09/28/09 at 10:48 AM.
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Old 09/28/09, 11:01 AM
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From what I see from the road side, Kansas gets 2 GOOD cuttings a year.

I have also heard that the "Stockman Grass Farmer" is good to increase the amount and the quality of the grass.
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Old 09/28/09, 11:19 AM
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Location: South Central Wisconsin
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South Central Wisconsin (or just southern/mid Wisconsin in general) usually gets 4 cuttings. On a really good year, they get 5. Alfalfa grows well here, as do the grass hays. timothy being predominant of the grass types. Over the last few years, watching the chatter on HT about providing hay for the animals, I've seen people talking about $5 and $6 a bale (talking the 60# bales) being a good price. Often saying they're paying $8 or $9. $4 is high here. If you can use the round bales, you can buy those for $25 to $45, depending on quality and distance to haul.

The quality of the hay is excellent, too. My SO works with people who test hay and baling methods and growing methods. Good nutrition from the hay here.

Grain also seems to be cheaper here than other places, too. Lots of small co-ops and small feed mills. Lots of small farmers who grow their own, sell/store it with the feedmill or co-op.
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Old 09/28/09, 12:22 PM
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We are in far SW Wisconsin with 40 acres of hilly pasture and woods for our hundred or so meat sheep. We buy our hay and shell corn from a neighbor. Excellent hay around here of a variety of types and usually four cuttings. Dairy cattle, dairy goats, beef cattle, and lots of horses in this part of the world, also sheep of course. Big round bales, big squares, little squares, organic, take your pick. There are several hay auction locations fairly close that our neighbors sell at.

My impression is that some of the best and most even hay is grown in California by the big dairy operations. It's dry out there and they have to irrigate, but the hay does dry on schedule unlike around here.

I used to be on a board with a hay specialist from Iowa, however he moved his operation to Indiana. I don't think the hay quality was the reason he moved though.

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Old 09/28/09, 12:42 PM
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It'll depend on the year!
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Old 09/28/09, 12:54 PM
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Around here they get 10 yes ten cuttings A year. 100 bales per acre per cutting. And they do use irrigation, And Alfalfa sells high here too
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Old 09/28/09, 01:29 PM
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May I ask why growing hay is so important to you?
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Old 09/29/09, 08:09 PM
JWK JWK is offline
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: central New York
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Originally Posted by agmantoo View Post
May I ask why growing hay is so important to you?
Here in central New York hay we have long winters. Unless you have money to burn, you need to grow your own. It must be the same in the northern midwest, but what an advantage to have the right weather and soil.

Thanks to everyone for all the info.
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Old 09/30/09, 07:59 AM
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Location: michigan
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We get 3 cuttings here in Michigan. we have 22 ac. in Alfala, last year we got 100- 5x6' 1500 lbs. bales.
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Old 09/30/09, 08:55 AM
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Location: Northern Michigan (U.P.)
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Much of the hay grown in eastern Upper Peninsula of Michigan gets shipped to other states, race horses.
Hard to get two cuttings.
Heavy red clay soil holds moisture. Great Lakes keep the summer heat down and moisture up.

I think AZ has good hay because they can flood the field to get all the water they need and the low humidity insures baling when the crop is ready.

Ideal hay growing areas, places that you can get three cuttings, will also grow other crops like soybeans and corn. That drives up the value/price of land. Most homesteaders have to reach some sort of compromise. Land just north of prime corn belt areas are cheaper, but still grow hay and vegetables.
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Old 09/30/09, 01:05 PM
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By far the best places to raise hay are in the Arid West where you control the rain with the use of irrigation. You can lay hay in tight windrows, not touch them, then bale without fear of rain or humidty causing havoc with your baling.

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Old 09/30/09, 01:58 PM
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Eastern WA!
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Old 09/30/09, 02:17 PM
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sheep & antenna farming
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Location: far SW Wisconsin USA
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Originally Posted by PNP Katahdins View Post
I used to be on a board with a hay specialist from Iowa, however he moved his operation to Indiana. I don't think the hay quality was the reason he moved though.
Jim/Lazy J, I was talking about you above! Nice to see you here, didn't know it was you. Weren't you on the Production Sheep Forum at one time? You said what I tried to (about the best location for hay) but in a better way.

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