Mother Nature was not very cooperative with farmers this spring as rainfall slowed field activities in many portions of the Midwest. Corn and soybean planting ran behind schedule, and so did the first cutting of hay.

Hay is simply too valuable of a commodity to waste, but proper storage can help reduce the quantity of hay lost.

Some ideas to consider:

1. Hay/soil contact is typically the primary source of losses associated with hay stored outdoors. Cover your storage area with rocks 1 to 3 inches in diameter piled 4 to 8 inches deep. Using geotextile cloth below the rocks will increase the life of the pad.

2. If placing bales on the ground cannot be avoided, make sure a welldrained area is selected.

3. Hay should be stored in an open area that can receive maximum sunlight. Hay should never be stored under trees. It is also preferable to orient bale rows to run north and south to allow for maximum daily sun exposure.

4. Bales should be placed so the sides of the bales do not touch. Allow at least 3 feet of space between rows to allow for air circulation. An exception to this would be if you are stacking bales in a pyramid fashion for covering with a tarp or other material.

5. The flat ends of bales should be firmly butted against one another, as this can protect the ends almost as well as if they were one continuous bale.