Drought!

We've found ourselves squarely in a rather localized drought lately. We've only had about one half inch of rain since the 4th of July and our cool season grass (Orchardgrass) is showing us the one time of year when it struggles. I was just out walking some of the hay fields and it's hard not to get disheartened by seeing so much browning and withering grass. Most of our first crop was cut on June 18th and baled by the 22nd. The first chance of rain didn't come until the 29th when we threw on about 200 pounds per acre of fertilizer. We then got a nice 1/2-3/4 inch rain on the 1st of July and another 1/2-3/4 inch rain on the 4th. The grass was growing great!! We were thrilled to see the grass getting dark green and already 8-10 inches tall. Then the hottest weather of the summer engulfed us for two weeks with one 1/2 inch shot of rain followed by another 10 hot, dry days and then we're at today. The grass looked it's best around the 14th, when it was only 20-22 days old! Who plans on cutting grass hay on 20 day intervals?!?! But the water turned off and the heat turned up and the grass dries out, browns from the tip down and then the brown even shatters off the plant. Looking at some of the stems in the fields, the total height of the stem is maybe 14-16 inches but the top 4-5 inches is only a thin brown sliver after the rest of the blade has fallen off. Lets walk through a simple ratio explaining this impact. Our hay cutters leave about 3 inches of stubble so if we were to harvest now we would have a crop that is about 10 inches of actual green hay (not counting the brown sliver on top), versus if we could have cut when the entire blade was green we could have cut 15 inches. So our harvest is already 33% less than if could have been and is more than likely getting smaller with each passing dry day. We've never considered cutting at 20 days but this scenario makes it appear that we should have. Let's hope we get some rain!

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