Hay farmers: ‘We’ve never had a year like this’

Hay farmers: ‘We’ve never had a year like this’
Published: Aug. 31, 2023 at 5:50 PM EDT
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TOWN OF CHAMPION, New York (WWNY) - From too dry to too wet. Farmers in the north country are saying the 2023 hay season is one like they have never seen before.

A dry start to summer followed by wet weather in July and August has some farmers concerned about the hay harvest.

“We’ve never had a year like this one. It’s really hard to make dry hay. You need 2 to 3 days, and we haven’t had that,” said Jon Ostrowski, owner, Ostrowski Farms.

He says the wild weather patterns have put him behind when it comes to cutting his crop. The delay in cutting is now causing a backup for customers.

“People with horses, goats, and a certain amount of dairy cattle and beef cattle like the dry hay for their animals, and it’s really hard making that. I got first cutting that hasn’t been cut yet. I got customers waiting for hay,” said Ostrowski.

He is not the only farmer feeling the effects of the changing weather.

“We’ve had some beautiful hay crops, it’s just been very challenging to try to get it. My inventories are pretty short. Second and third cuttings have been looking really good, quality has been really good. It’s just been a challenge to get it. When you only have a sunny day, one - two days a week, that’s barely enough time to mow it down to even go out and then collect it,” said John Peck, owner, Peck Homestead Farms.

In Lewis County, Cornell Cooperative Extension field crop specialist Mike Hunter says farmers have experienced smaller yields at the beginning of the year, but the hay was of higher quality.

“A lot of farms that we work with say that they have some excellent quality forage out there. It’s been a favorable year for it, just again some road bumps with some of these challenges that people have had to try and get some dry hay bailed especially,” he said.

Hunter says the north country is not the only part of the state being affected by this summer’s climate. He believes there is an opportunity for some farmers to be able to ship their yields to farms in other areas that have been hit harder.