Contrary to the belief of some, hay is not grown year round. Forage cannot be grown during a major portion of the year due to cold temperatures.
Since animals need a continuous supply of food, the storing of hay is critical. The haying process allows us to harvest and store hay grown during favorable weather conditions for use during less favorable conditions.
The process starts in the spring when the days become sufficiently warm and the number of daylight hours increases. This stimulates the plants that have been lying dormant over the winter to begin their growing process. Where our ranch is located, in Lincoln County, Washington, this growing process usually begins in April.
There are many variables that can affect this process, not the least of which is the temperature of the nights. April nights in the Lincoln County area can be in the 30's which causes a longer growing period. In order for good growth to begin, not only do the days need to have warm temperatures, but the nights need to have temperatures ranging above 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Grass will grow slightly faster in cooler weather than the legumes such as Alfalfa. Alfalfa grows best when the temperatures are hot. It typically takes approximately 60 days for new growth of Alfalfa, 60 for Mix hay, 60 for Orchardgrass, and 75-80 for Timothy where our ranch is located.