The Lost Art of Hay Tedding is Gaining Renewed Popularity
Although it fell out of favor years ago, hay tedding is making a comeback on many farms. So, what is hay tedding and why is it enjoying a resurgence after so many years?
Tedding involves lifting and separating hay so that it dries more quickly. The increased drying speed is thought by some to give hay producers more flexibility, resulting in higher quality forage.
Experts say that the greatest advantage of tedding is that the hay is fluffed, which leads to more air flow through the bottom of the windrow. This allows for more sunlight on the windrow and faster, more uniform drying. This is especially significant in rainy climates where it can reduce drying time by up to two days.
Tedding has been around for hundreds of years but in modern times it fell out favor because it was believed to cause leaf loss. It is popular again because hay producers better understand its many benefits – when it is performed correctly.
In warmer parts of the United States hay tedding will probably never be used by all hay producer but some in the west and southwest may employ it when weather patterns are unpredictable or there is an increase in rainfall.
Tedding should take place about a day or so after mowing because the crop at the top will have wilted and dried by then. The green growth from underneath will then come toward the top. In all cases, when there is rain in the forecast it is essential to get the hay put up before any rain falls
Tedding works best for grass hay because grass hay mats and dries more slowly. Alfalfa hay is rarely tedded because there is a greater chance of leaf loss and alfalfa left in the field too long leads to other problems. Some experts say, however, that tedding alfalfa is possible if you time it right and cut hay when it is still a bit damp so that the leaves will not fall off.
It is critical that you use the correct equipment for tedding. There are basically two types, light duty and heavy duty. Light-duty tedders are designed for smaller operations or when tedding is not performed regularly. Producers who use tedding frequently and on large areas should employ a heavy-duty tedder.