Hay cutting begins

By William Thompson: Quay County Sun

- Some area farmers say rains have hindered crop.

Quay County alfalfa hay farmers began cutting recently, with results varying widely.

Donald Carter, who farms about 120 acres of alfalfa 23 miles west of Tucumcari, said he had no luck at all with his alfalfa. He wound up shredding the hay and leaving it to fertilize the next crop.

Paul Estrada, on the other hand, had success at his alfalfa farm nine miles east of Tucumcari. He was able to cut about 120 acres of hay suitable for selling to dairy farms in Clovis and Portales.

Carter said winter moisture was the downfall of his crop.
“The winter moisture helped weeds germinate, and the weeds competed with the hay for moisture,” Carter said. “We just shredded the hay. With the irrigation water coming from Conchas Dam we could see better yields later this summer.”

Estrada said his crop didn’t fall prey to weeds but the majority of his alfalfa crop was already dead prior to cutting. About 370 acres dried up due to drought conditions last year, he said. Still, Estrada’s 120 acres of good alfalfa hay was able to keep him going, along with 250 acres of wheat hay.

“The spring rains helped my crop survive,” Estrada said, “and I was able to get my alfalfa cut and off the ground before the rains last weekend.”
Estrada said alfalfa grows back every spring for four to six years before the soil needs to be reseeded. He said hay farmers pay close attention to weather forecasts beginning in late May.

“Once the hay is cut, rain will damage it if it is still on the ground, “ he said. “That’s why it’s important to get the hay off the ground before it rains. You can’t predict when it’s going to rain, though.”