Step one: mow the grass down so it can dry in the summer sun. Step two: watch weather forecasts.
Actually the part about weather forecasts is an ongoing daily occurrence. We have to pay attention to the weather, it determines the timing for everything we do. Once a field of grass has been mowed however, the weather information is critical. We mow only one field at a time so that the entire process from field to barn is complete before starting the next field. We look for 5-7 days of warm, dry weather to get the high quality, sweet grass hay processed and stored.
Our fields are not big expansive areas that are irrigated into big crop circles as is the case in the eastern half of the state, our fields are relatively small in comparison. We do not irrigate, our land is naturally wetter here on the west side of the state along the river. We only produce one hay crop a year off each field as opposed to multiple cuttings. The rest of the year, while the bigger farmers are making hay from the same fields for the second or third time, we are pasturing the fields and letting the cows graze the tender grass as it grows.
Hay Season series will continue as we progress through the stages.