This summer’s unusually rainy start has literally dampened the mood of many Lafayette County hay farmers. With only a month and a half left to harvest, farmers are hoping for dry weather on the horizon.
Most years, farmers will cut a large field and let it dry for a couple of days in the hot sun. After the grass dries to perfection, they will rake it, bail it, and haul it at their leisure. The farmers will then sell that hay when the weather gets cooler for mulch and feed.
This summer is a game changer. Farmers have been lucky to get four or five days to work in the field before it gets wet. If the rain beats them to the hay, farmers risk losing their whole crop…and their pay day.
“Many people haven’t been able to get their first cutting yet,” Lindsey Hill, of H and H Farms, said. “ We are six weeks behind and have only cut 2/3 of our first cutting.”
The source of the farmer’s frustration can be traced back to many factors. Following a warm winter, this year’s summer has been wetter than times past. A series of tropical storms hitting the Gulf have also sent the rain clouds rolling high above Northern Mississippi.
When there is water on the fields, farmers are afraid to rut-up the ground or damage their tractors. The rain has also washed away some of the fertilizer used to grow particular types of grass.
“This has been the slowest year for us to get started,” Tyler Hill, of H and H Farms, said. “It will work out in the end, but you have to get started to end it.”
For the farmers in need of hay for the upcoming winter, today’s weather could determine who and where they buy their hay from. Buyers may be forced to go in search of hay in the surrounding counties.
Farmers depend on a warm, dry August to catch up on their work. While things seem to look good right now for hay production, there is always the chance of an unexpected rain shower lurking in the future. Despite the dark clouds hanging above them, locals are still hopeful for clear skies.
“I try to keep up with my customers and buy from others farmers to keep a full stock,” Tyler Hill said. “I just try to do what I can to help.”
According to the National and Local Weather Radar, there are chances of rain this month on the 12th through the 17th. While some say that a wet year is better than a dry year, some farmers disagree.
“One offsets the other,” Lindsey Hill said. “In a dry year there is no crop, but in the wet year you can not get into the field to get the crop.”
For both round and square bails, readers can call Tyler Hill at 662-816-0048 to start ordering hay.
Allen Brewer is an intern for HottyToddy.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.Sign up to receive Hottytoddy.com morning and evening headline emails HERE!