Haymaking is always about how to strike a critical balance between growing time and weather conditions. Between mowing, tedding and raking, growers need to rely on science but also the senses to judge the right time to bring in the crop. The goal? To produce the largest quantity of the most nutritive forage for the best price possible.
Hay tedding: care & curing after mowing
More and more, tedding is a key part of haymaking. A traditional European technique, tedding is the process used by growers to cure mown hay, particularly in cooler climates where drying hay thoroughly can be a challenge.
Tedding speeds up drying of hay and other forage through physical manipulation:
- Mixing helps rotate dry grass with green
- Spreading maximizes sun exposure
- Fluffing increases air circulation
Tedding offers an array of benefits
Because the time window for proper haymaking can be so short and difficult to judge, growers are increasingly adding tedding into the mix because of the variety of advantages this step offers.
Properly performed, tedding can cut several days off drying so growers can move on to raking and baling. Depending on crop and conditions, some growers ted just once while others take a second pass.
Tedding can dramatically reduce the residual moisture content in the product which can lead to spoilage during storage. The right handling by thoughtfully designed machines can accomplish this, while not overly damaging delicate crops such as alfalfa and clover.
As climate changes, growers adapt
For decades, growers across America have slowly been adding tedding into their haymaking operations. Some have resisted, believing that tedding resulted in too much leaf loss.
However, as weather patterns change and become less predictable, harvesting has become a more volatile and precarious time.
Growers simply can’t take the chance not to ted hay. In the past few decades, this practice has spread from the Northeast into the Midwest and Great Plains states as growers have had to contend with rapidly shifting droughts and deluges.
Tips on choosing the right tedder
This tool offers more flexibility during haymaking time, but selecting the right model is dependent on the operation’s specifics.
Mechanically speaking, tedders either utilize tines in a spinning or fluffing action, positioned directionally to achieve optimal results.
Spinning distributes hay more broadly, using more tines per rotor to reduce clumping and damage. This is a useful and gentle tool to work multiple windrows at once.
Fluffing is particularly handy after a downpour as the process whips more air through mown produce to improve drying.
Acreage & Terrain
First, consider the acreage in need of tedding. This will guide decision-making between light-duty tedders geared toward smaller acreage or heavy-duty models built to really put in the hours over large fields.
- Light-duty tedders will still offer key features, such as rotor quantity and positioning variety, but without the need for a tractor with hardcore horsepower pulling it.
- Heavy-duty tedders offer greater tedding width, additional rotors, positioning capability, foldable frames, and other features that promote maneuverability. But these models also demand more power to pull.
Large haymaking operations should take a look at Deere’s TD34 Series. These models are easy to haul into remote areas, with foldable arms and locking transport wheels.
Next, choose the tedder for your terrain.
Manufacturers have designed different models to handle a variety of conditions in multiple fields. Look for features such as fully adjustable tines and tine arms, tedder height adjustment settings, plus floatation tires that can handle divots and hillocks with ease.
Uneven fields? A great model to consider is Deere’s TD13 Series tedders, featuring hydraulic adjustment capabilities and balloon tires that glide over bumpy ground.