Armstrong farmers contend with rain in making hay
Every dry, sunny day, Chris Hileman finds himself in his tractor, rushing toward his 100-acre hay field along Route 85 in Valley Township.
Hileman, like many farmers across Armstrong County, is racing to get his hay cut down and baled before more rain hits, making it impossible to do field work.
“The rain has made this a real chore this summer,” Hileman said. “You can't get in the fields when it's raining because the ground is too soft, but we've got too much rain, and hay doesn't like to grow in a swamp.
“This summer, people haven't been making hay like they want and need to, so I'm seriously worried there may be a shortage this fall and winter.”
This summer's heavy rain has kept most farmers from getting out to cut and bale hay on a regular basis, lowering the crop's quality and quantity, said Ed Huston, executive director of the Armstrong County Farm Service Agency.
Huston said hay is one of Armstrong County's top crops. According to the USDA's website, last year, farmers harvested 19,500 tons of hay from 13,000 acres in Armstrong County. It accounted for about $4.3 million of the county's $50 million agriculture industry.
This year, the yield could be a little bit smaller, he said.
“The production has been later, so farmers may not get out for a third or fourth normal cutting of hay this year,” Huston said. “It all depends on how much rain we get.”
Ideally, hay farmers want one day of rain, followed by five sunny days, to have time to bring in the best yield, Huston said.
Like most fruits and vegetables, hay needs to be harvested early in the plant's life cycle, so it does not become overripe and lose its nutritional value, Huston said.
“We may see the tonnage, but not the quality,” Huston said. “Farmers need to get it cut and baled early, when there is more protein in the plant.”
Hileman said each summer, he usually cuts and bales hay two times. Last week, he made his first cut, but isn't optimistic about a second.
“A lot of hay at this point is already past its prime,” Hileman said. “If I can get all of the standing hay off the field now, and throw on a lot of fertilizer, hopefully I'll be able to do a second, but I just don't know.”
Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303, ext. 1337, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Hacker stuns Dayton family with computer takeover
- Spontaneous street celebrations marked WWII’s end 70 years ago
- Kittanning traffic snarls expected as bridge renovation work wraps up
- Gateway Clipper making 2 Armstrong County cruises in October
- West Shamokin closes band camp with new director
- Police determine which car was going wrong way in fatal Manor crash
- ‘Drugs Kill Dreams’ celebrates 15th year in Armstrong County
- Kittanning fundraiser to help homeless pit bulls
- Program in Ford City helps girls build confidence, self-esteem
- State Rep. Pyle: Ford City debt repayment letter should be made public
- Thieves destroy PennDOT front-end loader parked in Valley