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Page 4—Foraging Around, Lancaster Farming, Saturday, July 11, 1998
(Contlniiad from Pag* i)
farm, reveals the “secrets” to growing
high-quality hay hay that can net a
premium price at any auction.
“You know, you can grow bad hay
as easily as you can grow good hay,”
he says, as he lifts a bale of alfalfa
orchardgrass back onto a pallet But
the Nazarcth-area crops farmer points
out that how hay is baled and dried
down can affect the product’s price
The secret is to remove the hay from
the field when it is ready. He has baled
hay on wet, gray mornings. Then, after
a fresh cut, the leaves —a vital source
of feed protein remain intact on the
stem, before the bales are dried.
The variety the fanner selects to
grow is important, according to Bieb
er. Growers should look for a product
that would make best use of the soil
and environment and it should con
tain a thin stem area.
The single most critical element to
good hay-making? Dry it as fast and
efficiently as possible, according to the
Bieber has proven his own methods
of drying down hay have paid off. Not
only does he have to turn away cus
tomers for his premium hay, but his
hay has consistently placed in champ
ion classes at the Ag Progress Days
Hay Show held during Ag Progress at
Rockspring in August.
Last year, Bieber placed first in
Gass 14, alfalfa grass mixed later
cutting. This class features a mixture of
alfalfa and grass with more than 10
percent but not more than 50 percent
He also placed first in Class 20, mix
ed hay. This class features a hay
sample of mixed hay with more than
50 percent grasses. This mixture con
tains 50 percent or more grass in com
bination with alfalfa, clover, or birds
Bieber, retired but still working
part-time for Chrin, Inc. excavating
company in Easton, purchased the
farm about 50 years ago. The farm
used to be a large potato and crop farm.
At the farm, of 88 acres, about 65 ttc
tillable. With additional rented
All bales, however, are taken through a modified New Holland oil-fueled crop drier that burns oil at
about five gallons per hour. Here, Bleber checks out the motor.
Farmer Learns That Drying
Some Really Great Bales Of
Robert Bleber, with his Jack Russell terrier Mltze, has learned how to dry hay Inexpensively, which
has resulted in better prices
acreage, Bieber tills a total of 100
About 60 of the conventionally and
•minimally tilled acreage are in alfalfa
and alfalfa-orchardgrass mix. Of the
60, half arc pure alfalfa and the other
half alfalfa-orchardg r ass. The balance
of the tillable acres are in com.
With the alfalfa-orchardgrass mix,
Bieber is able to get about four good
cuttings a year. The mix averages
about 80 bales to the acre.
With the straight alfalfa, about
90-110 bales per acre are possible.
The hay is cut and is allowed to dry.
Bieber uses a tedder once or twice to
remove the morning dew. The alfalfa is
square- baled (three feet in length) at
about 25-30 percent moisture.
The alfalfa grass mixtures are baled
at 18-20 percent moisture.
All bales, however, are taken
through a modified New Holland oil
fueled crop drier that bums oil at about
Bleber’s hay has lots of leaf material.
five gallons per hour. The hot air fur
nace takes in hot air from a connected
structure ahd is taken through a
“trench” underneath an 8-foot by
8-fool by 38-foot precast concrete
walled structure with an open roof. The
bales are stacked on pallets (600-bale
capacity). The forced air, from a
5-horsepower motor, is delivered at
temperatures about 200-205 degrees.
The air is forced from the delivery
trench through the bottom of the bales.
The top is open to allow moisture to
When stored, a tarp is used to cover
the bales. Tarp is also wedged in
between the pallets and the wall sur
face to act as an insulator raid to ensure
the air moves directly up through the
The drying shed structure is the
“smartest investment I made in my
life,” said Bieber.
The structure, built in 1987, costs
about 7,000, not including the cost of
the drier. The drier cost about $1,500.
All bales must be dried for about 24
hours before they are ready to be
stacked in a nearby bam and then
The bales are in sizzle twine
(Turn to Pago t 2)