Farm Talk

Area Farm & Ranch News

May 13, 2014

Moist hay, hot temperatures mix for combustion and destruction

Parsons, Kansas — It might sound strange, but with no apparent ignition source, hay bales can burst into flames and cause much damage to storage facilities or cause a raging wildfire.

The combination of low wind speeds, high humidity, moist hay and hot temperatures is a recipe for disaster. With this set of circumstances, tightly stacked hay bales have been known to combust. Without proper preventative measures, hay barns or any other structures close to the bales, would be lost.

Darren Redfearn, Oklahoma State University CooperativeExtension forage specialist with the department of plant and soil sciences, has some advice for producers and buyers.

“When you go in and immediately harvest these forages, they have a high water content,” said Redfearn. “One of the things that does continue is the process of respiration.”

Respiration is a normal plant process to produce food for itself, which in turn also produces heat. This process will continue to generate heat until the moisture content of the hay drops below 40 percent.

At 20 percent moisture, the hay is considered dry. However, mold will grow through respiration and produce heat until that point. This heat, along with the hay itself, mixed with oxygen causes the combustion.

Redfearn said the combustion typically takes place along the surface of the bales because the oxygen has trouble penetrating into the middle. Before this happens, there are some preventative measures that should be taken.

“Make hay while the sun is shining,” Redfearn said referring to the old adage that has a lot of truth to it. “We need to get this hay dried as quickly as possible.”

The summer months in Oklahoma provide adequate drying conditions with high temperatures, a slight breeze and low humidity.

If there is any question as to whether the hay was baled at the correct moisture, the temperature of the bales should be closely monitored. A bale that measures less than 120 F is in no danger.

Bales between 120 F and 140 F need some attention. Bales should be removed from a barn or structure and separated so they can cool off. Once a bale reaches more than 140 F, it is generally too late, Redfearn said.

“Once you start moving them at that temperature, that’s when you really get into danger,” he said. “That’s when you are putting yourself in danger.”

These types of issues will generally occur within five to seven days of baling, so it is best to leave bales in the field for several days before storing.

Text Only
Area Farm & Ranch News
  • Stockpiled bermudagrass can reduce winter feed costs

    Harvested forage costs are a large part of the production costs associated with cow-calf enterprises.  
    An Oklahoma State University trial had the objective to economically evaluate stockpiled bermudagrass. The research found that this practice can reduce cow-wintering costs.

    July 22, 2014

  • FSFS to feature well drilling, equipment demonstrations

    The 40th Four State Farm Show is this weekend, and exhibitors will have over 25 acres of agricultural products and services on display.

    July 15, 2014

  • Corn growers smile in June rains, haymakers fret at few sunny days

    June, noted for the start of the hot, dry days of summer, became a spring-rain month this year.
    All grasses, including corn, continued to grow.

    July 8, 2014

  • Kansas net farm income continued to slide in 2013

    Kansas farmers took a one-two punch with drought and lower grain prices in 2013 and the result was a drop in average net income to its lowest level since 2009, according to data from the Kansas Farm Management Association’s annual PROFITLINK Analysis.

    July 8, 2014

  • Ergot hits Mo. pastures

    The first two weeks of July are prime time for ergot to appear in common pasture grasses, said University of Missouri Extension forage specialist Craig Roberts.
    Wet, cool weather, followed by heat and humidity, creates favorable conditions for the disease. “With the amount of moisture in the ground and in the plants, the state turns into an incubator when it gets hot,” Roberts said.

    July 1, 2014

  • Mo. AG files lawsuit for Barry Co. fish kill

    Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster has filed suit against Tyson Foods Inc. seeking civil penalties and compensation for state costs and natural resource damages for a large fish kill in southwestern Missouri.

    June 24, 2014

  • MU offers online grain marketing ‘game’

    Market values in farming don’t stay the same for very long. Farm prices are like Missouri weather.  We don’t have to wait very long for a change.

    June 17, 2014

  • Check grasshopper populations now

    Parts of Oklahoma that have suffered from a lack of rainfall are likely to experience grasshopper infestations the likes of a Biblical plague this summer.

    June 10, 2014

  • dairy-days-Fitting-'13.jpg Dairy Days tradition continues in NW Ark.

    Youth from around the area will head to Bentonville, Ark., for the 25th Annual 4-State Dairy Days and Dairy Camp on June 19-22.

    June 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • SEK poultry litter program announced

    The Kansas Department of Agriculture – Division of Conservation has announced a program for landowners using poultry litter as part of their fertilizer program in a 10-county targeted area for poultry litter.

    May 28, 2014

Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Seasonal Content