Wet, humid weather conditions are making it difficult for local farmers trying to decide when to cut hay.
Three days free of rain are needed for hay to cure once it has been cut. If it rains while the hay is drying, mold will start to grow on it. Shad Baker, an agent with the Letcher County Extension Office, said moldy hay is not suitable for horses to eat because they can become sick and possibly die.
Baker said the decision of when to cut hay is totally dictated by the weather.
“I know a lot of people are waiting for the rain to give up,” said Baker.
Baker said if farmers wait too long the hay will over mature and the value diminishes. He said once the seed heads are visible, the protein level has begun to drop.
Farmers must either wait out the rain and risk overly mature hay or take a risk and cut the hay hoping it won’t rain and ruin their crop.
“It’s a gamble,” said Baker. “They know the game before they play it. It’s not unusual for farmers to have a hard time getting their hay cut. They have to do the best they can with what they have to work with.”
Baker said the high humidity isn’t helping in the curing process.
“Humidity slows down the curing of it and slows down the drying time,” said Baker.
Baker said the key is finding an accurate weather forecast.
John Jacobson, senior meteo- rologist with the National Weather Service in Jackson, said the weather center continues to receive a number of telephone calls from farmers asking when will there be a three-day period with no rain.
Jacobson said he can’t really give farmers an answer.
“It’s just a pattern where you can’t rule out rain,” said Jacobson. “These pop-up showers are going to continue. They are looking at taking a risk.”
Johnson said weather patterns are complicated and change from time to time, but said this wet, humid pattern is as normal as any other weather pattern.
“Weather patterns come and go as it changes it brings certain weather with it,” said Jacobson. “Sometimes we have hot weather. Sometimes we have cold weather.”