Ozarks farmers begin cutting hay after delays from Spring rain

FAIR GROVE, Mo. Many tractors across the Ozarks have just been sitting, as farmers wait for the weather to dry out.

Marvin Clopton is thankful to finally get out in the field. "Yeah, it's been too wet in a few fields," Clopton says. "Well I haven't even got fertilizer on a couple fields that I wanted because it was too wet."

Clopton also would have liked to cut his alfalfa a couple weeks ago. He finally got the chance yesterday. "The ground yesterday was probably wetter than I should have been on, but I went ahead and did it anyway, because if you get out there when it's too wet, you get ruts, and then that makes it rough and worse for the next time," says Clopton.

Up until this week, farmers haven't had a chance to cut hay and let it dry. "Hopefully it'll get dry. This wind and sun is going to help a lot through today," Clopton says.

Tim Schnakenberg, agronomy field specialist with MU Extension, says many farmers who planted crops like rye and wheat as livestock feed have had an especially hard time. "Many of those had to have been harvested a few weeks ago, or they were; it was all over," says Schnakenberg. "The quality was lost."

He says some were able to wrap those crops as baleage, or wet bales.

"I was going to do some of that here, but the guy that wraps it couldn't get to it," says Clopton.

Farmers cutting fescue hay are finding a bountiful harvest, but Schnakenberg says the quality has gone downhill with the rain delay.
"This has been one of the more challenging Springs to get hay harvested on time," Schnakenberg says.

But farmers like Clopton are thankful for the quantity to replenish what was a short supply. And they're hoping for a few more dry days to cut and bale hay.

"Because you need about 3 days dry at a time to get the hay up right. If you got more than that, that's great; you can just keep cutting and keep going," Clopton says.

Of course, while farmers are thankful for a few dry days now, they hope the rain doesn't stop altogether.