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Author Topic: fertilizing hay fields  (Read 5038 times)

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Offline Robert R

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fertilizing hay fields
« on: July 16, 2007, 10:49:23 pm »
I'm having a terrible time finding an answer to this question.  Our hay yield is way, way down this year.  We're getting less than half what we normally would.  I've never fertilized my hay before but was planning on doing so this fall anyway.  Would it help the second cut volume/quality to go ahead and fertilize lightly now and then still fertilize this winter or would I be throwing my money away?
chaplain robert
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Offline Handy Andy

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Re: fertilizing hay fields
« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2007, 10:53:40 pm »
  You didn't say what variety of hay you have.  We fertilize Brome or we don't cut much.  Don't have to put a lot on alfalfa.  Native doesn't seem to require much, although on very poor ground, have found that manure helps. 
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Offline dave7191

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Re: fertilizing hay fields
« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2007, 10:58:42 pm »
 Robert did your hay freeze this spring after it had got way ahead  then go to seed as soon as it warm up before it had grown if it did that is why your down on amount  of hay  they say it will help to  fertilize if we get the rain after but you can also burn up what you would have gotten 

Offline CLL

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Re: fertilizing hay fields
« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2007, 11:11:47 pm »
The best thing to do is to do a soil test, most county agents will do it for free or a small fee. You would be amazed that most land needs lime,which is cheap and works well. They can get your soil test back in a couple of weeks, thats what I would do first. Fertilizer is high when you don't need it.
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Offline Robert R

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Re: fertilizing hay fields
« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2007, 11:14:47 pm »
Thanks.  This is mostly ground that isn't mine but I get the hay off of it for free so I thought I had ought to give something back.  It is mainly fescue and weeds with a bit of clover.  I've got a small but decent fescue/red clover patch of my own and it was way down this year too.  All the rest of my hay is in soybeans and waiting to go through wheat before returning to a better horse hay than I have right now so I am trying to squeeze every bale I can out of what is left that I have access to.
chaplain robert
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Offline scsmith42

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Re: fertilizing hay fields
« Reply #5 on: July 17, 2007, 12:43:26 am »
Robert, I second DLL's advice - do a soil test (or several soil tests) and find out for sure.

Typically, the best time to fertilize is in the fall (August / September) and add Nitrogen in early spring (March timeframe) for max yield.

Scott
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Offline wesdor

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Re: fertilizing hay fields
« Reply #6 on: July 17, 2007, 09:01:14 am »
Gary Zimmer is quite an expert in the field of organic agriculture and actually runs a rather larger spread near Spring Green, Wisconsin.  I attended a full day seminar he presented last January and was very impressed with his research on proper nutrition of hay plants which then produced better quality hay.

He has an excellent web site at:

Mid West Bio Ag

I think testing the soil, as has been mentioned above, is your first step.

Good luck

Offline thurlow

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Re: fertilizing hay fields
« Reply #7 on: July 17, 2007, 10:07:29 am »
Fescue will definitely benefit from the application of Nitrogen, although it may be a little (a month or so) early for the autumn growing season.  It's probably entering into a dormant stage because of the heat.  Ask your supplier (or county agent) what form of N to use;  some of it can be quite volatile and a significant amount lost to the atmosphere.  If you don't have a soil test, apply 30-45 # of actual N.  You'll not get much immediate benefit from the application of P and K;  they're more to maintain soil fertility over the long haul.
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Offline scsmith42

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Re: fertilizing hay fields
« Reply #8 on: July 19, 2007, 08:03:27 am »
Wesdor - that's and interesting link - thanks for sharing.

Scott
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Smith - Gallagher dedicated slabber
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and a mix of log handling heavy equipment.

Offline Haytrader

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Re: fertilizing hay fields
« Reply #9 on: July 19, 2007, 09:05:11 am »
CLL is right on. Applying fertilizer without a soil test is called "the shotgun" approach. It is like reaching in the medicine cabinet and grabbing any old medicine when you don't feel well.
And, since you stated you have weeds, I would strongly reccomend applying a herbicide with liquid fertilizer. Another benifit to adding herbicide to fertilizer is that less herbicide is needed. Fertilizer has a multiplying effect on herbicide.That way you pay for the application once and accomplish two things. This will save you money regardless of whether you do the application or hire it done.
Typically, herbicides (and fertilizer) are applied in the spring, when both weeds and grass are just starting to grow thus killing the weeds early before they rob valuable moisture and nutrients. This also will allow the desirable forage more moisture and nutrients for future growth.
Since you missed the spring application, I would consult you county agent or a commercial applicator for advice.
Haytrader

Offline slowzuki

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Re: fertilizing hay fields
« Reply #10 on: July 19, 2007, 09:20:09 am »
In our area the only thing you can do without testing is lime it, its pretty hard to put on too much when using the local supplies.

Applying manure in the wet spring here then a little shot of fertilizer after each cutting does wonders for production but it may not apply for you.

Offline redpowerd

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Re: fertilizing hay fields
« Reply #11 on: July 19, 2007, 06:22:25 pm »
lets find the soil ph before we go throwing lime at it, eh?
beans need a soil ph of 6.5 or higher, and i wouldnt know where to begin with application rates without testing the feild in at least a few spots per acre. even for average hay ground. im sure it does need lime, but take the average off your multiple tests over the feild so you have somewheres to start.
finding the population of the desirable crop will help with fertilizer reccomendations, also.
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Offline slowzuki

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Re: fertilizing hay fields
« Reply #12 on: July 23, 2007, 10:43:45 am »
 :D I'm just used to locally, people run outta $ for lime and fuel to spread it long before they bring the ph close to where it should be.

lets find the soil ph before we go throwing lime at it, eh?

Offline OneWithWood

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Re: fertilizing hay fields
« Reply #13 on: July 23, 2007, 12:42:48 pm »
Robert,
Contact your local Soil and Water Conservation District.  They should be able to set you up with the soil testing.  Sometimes they even have or can point you to cost share programs.
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