Outstanding in His Field
By Kim L. Fritzemeier
KFRM Central Kansas Reporter
Farm Wife along the Stafford/Reno County Line
Once upon a time, I remember giving my dad a birthday card that said: To a Dad who's outstanding in his field.
This photo was taken August 15. We had gotten 1.10 inches of rain that morning.
This photo was taken August 23. Look at the growth in a week and a day!
We got an additional 3.4 inches of rain. Then on September 7, two weeks and a day later, we took this just before Randy started swathing the 2010 sudan crop. At that point, some of it was taller than him.
We use the same pull-type swather to cut sudan that we use for harvesting our alfalfa hay, though it has to be set differently for this taller, thicker crop.
It chops it off near the ground and leaves it in windrows. Sudan doesn't have grain in the head, one of the differences from the silage that we harvested September 8. So it doesn't have as much protein or carbohydrate as the silage. Randy prefers to use it for mature cows rather than feeder cattle. Cows don't have as high a nutrient requirement as feeder cattle.
Sudan doesn't get quite as tall as the silage: You can see how its height compares to the height of the tractor cab.
Sudan isn't quite as sweet-tasting as silage, which has a higher sugar content. And how does Randy know that, you might ask? Yes, he has tasted it. I vaguely remember tasting silage as a kid, too, when my Dad would cut into the stalk and we'd suck on it.
Yes, there are equipment breakdowns in swathing, too. Here he had to "unplug" the sudan from the swather.
So what are the risks to planting sudan (in addition to breakdowns on the swather, of course!)? Sudan doesn't grow well if you don't get rain. We have been blessed this summer with timely rains. If sudan is raised in drought conditions, however, it may be too high in nitrates. If that occurs, we would have had to wait until after a freeze before it could be swathed or grazed to avoid nitrate poisoning in cattle.
Randy swathed the sudan on September 7. It was finally dry enough to bale on September 17 and 18. Miraculously, we didn't have any rain on the sudan while it was drying, unlike all the alfalfa hay we had down this summer. I think we got rain on almost all of it. Again, we use the same baler to bale the sudan as we used to bale the alfalfa. In fact, during the same time he was baling sudan, he baled the summer's 4th cutting of alfalfa.
Randy uses an electronic tester on a completed bale to make sure it's dry enough.
It should be under 18 percent moisture, with this particular bale reading 14.5 percent moisture.
Randy baled as sundown approached. Sometimes as the dew comes on at sundown, it becomes too wet to continue to bale.
He started the baling process on September 17 and continued on September 18. On September 18 alone, he baled 236 bales. We had a total of 270 bales.
Randy uses an additional layer of net wrap on the outside of the sudan bales to protect them from the elements and to keep the bale together. Sometimes the sudan gets held over for another year before it's fed to cattle. It is harder to find a market to sell sudan, as compared to alfalfa.
You can see the moon in the background, just over the bale. Harvest moon, I guess!
Respond to this Entry
Thursday 23rd of September 2010 04:40:24 PM
Submitted by: Lyle Longenecker
That is great way for non agricultural people to learn what goes on, on the farm. nice pictures and explanation.
Thursday 23rd of September 2010 05:50:32 PM
Submitted by: anonymous
Good looking hay.