Thursday, September 18, 2014

Hay and forage math

alfalfa in the back, alfalfa grass in the foreground.  Across the top is the corn field.  

Just got down with the second cutting of the grass and alfalfa fields today.  Stacked 1,120 80lb bales in the barn, bringing the total for the two cuttings to 2,592 bales, or roughly 103 tons of hay.

With this second cutting my costs have gone down; I can spread the costs of the initial tilling and planting over more tons of hay.  Next year I won't have the tillage or planting costs at all -- and I'm hoping that this stand of grass and alfalfa lasts for 3 to 4 years.   If you want to see the original outline of costs, check here.
Add to the initial costs another 6 tractor days for harvest at $350/day and another 6 man-days of labor at $150/day to stack it and we're talking about costs of about $22,000 to produce 103 tons of hay or roughly $8.40/bale... $220 a ton.

Wholesale price for orchard grass in small square bales is $268/ton right now, with small square bales of alfalfa going for $254/ton.  Alfalfa and orchard grass are the types of forage I grew.  If I were to sell it i'd make a small profit this year on the forage at current wholesale rates.  That's good to know.  
crop report for this week

I'm going to call this a qualified success.  The bales look and smell good, and it's a great feeling to know that I'll have extra hay this winter.

The corn isn't ready to be chopped yet; it's all tasseled and I'm waiting for the kernels on the corn cobs to fill out.  As I write this I can hear the rain coming down, which is good.  It's been dry the last few weeks, and some rain is just what the doctor ordered.   The corn is 7-9' tall and I'm crossing my fingers that I get enough warm weather to finish it out, given our late planting this year.    

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

corn chopping...

Looking at the corn every day to figure out whether we can chop it or not.  The corn looks good, and I'm looking forward to being able to figure out what the yield is per acre.

I'll be using a two-row chopper borrowed from a farmer who no longer uses it, he bought a self-propelled harvestor and this one is surplus.  His comment?  "your tractor is only 125hp.  You'll have a hard time hurting it, and it'll do some good to have it spun and greased".

Thanks, Dennis!

Saturday, September 6, 2014


Im a little concerned about my pumpkin patch.  It's not a critical path item, like the corn or the alfalfa/grass, but I'd still like it to do well.  The biggest problem is that it's hard for me to get to the weeds in between the plants along the row.  So there's a bit of weed growth, and I think it's retarding my pumpkins.  But they're out there, and they're growing.  This is the first year I've grown commercial quantities of pumpkins, so if I were to do it again I'd do a few things differently, but I'm only out about $100 for the seeds and $300 for the tractor time

I planted howden pumpkins, acorn squash and sugar pumpkins.  the howdens like a lot of space and are agressive growers.  The acorn are a little less agressive, but still good, and the sugar pumpkins are the least feisty.

I saw an implement that made a very nice field, and it'd be perfect for plastic-mulched planting.  Surpress the weeds and warms the soil both...