Recent rainfall delays East Texas hay harvest

Recent rainfall delays East Texas hay harvest

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - It's no secret that rainy weather has more than soaked the Deep East Texas area over the past few weeks. While the rain has been the source of nutrients that helped local hay crops grow, it is also responsible for preventing farmers from mowing and harvesting the hay they rely on all year long.

"What we have in the fields right now is a lot of grass and that's wonderful, but the quality of it has been diminishing and that's going to yield a lower quality hay to be fed this winter," said Cary Sims, Angelina County's AgriLife extension agent.

Farmers grow grass, cut it, and store it until winter when grass no longer grows. Deciding when to cut is key, but with all the rain, farmers had no choice but to wait.

"Over time that quality will decrease. That short tender green growth at the beginning is high quality and then as time goes on, it gets lower and lower quality and right in here is typically where we want to bale hay," Sims said.

A typical harvest is at four weeks. But with rain-soaked fields leaving farmers no way to harvest their crops, they were forced to bale the hay at six weeks, leaving them with a lower quality. When farmers go to feed that lower quality hay to cattle this winter, they'll have to shell out extra cash on additional supplements and feed to restore their diet to a quality level.

"We need to put something good in front of them, so they can keep their condition. If I put out poor quality hay, then they get skinny; they don't breed well, so we want to keep them in good nutrition," Sims said.

It's left many calling the rain a blessing and a curse, but Sims is just thankful conditions are improving.

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