Well a lot will depend on the hay rake model you have (as well as what type of hay as well as your climate).
Some hay rakes are known rope makers. The hay will not dry well in that type of tight windrow and this type of rake is typically only used right before baling for that reason alone. Raking things up too soon with a rake like this can be a bad thing.
Some of the really old vintage rakes were known to make loose fluffy windrows. Read the John Deere 594 hay rake owners manual some time if you get a chance. John Deere calls it putting up hay the John Deere way. Basically you put the hay in a loose fluffy windrow early in the dry down process, The hay being in a loose fluffy windrow still allows the hay to dry as air circulates through it freely but also really helps with color retention and preventing bleaching. Course you often have to use just the end of the rake to flip the windrow over like a pancake 2nd time (or in other words to invert the windrow).
Yeah it is another trip over the field when you rake twice, but really that is no different than tedding and then raking. Either way it is 2 trips over the field to 2 trips over the field (pretty much equal). I do not have a functioning tedder yet either. I rake with my JD 594 rake sooner than many would rake. I find it really helps my drying time doing this as well as the hay smell. Leaving it lay even in a wide swath is beneficial up to the point where the has dried down to the point of laying flat on the ground. Then what is getting exposed to the sun starts to get bleached, and everything underneath is still damp and can even start to smell bad as no air circulation underneath either. Rake into a loose fluffy windrow and it gets air. Flipping a 2nd time is almost certainly going to be needed and guaranteed. Sometimes I will even flip a 3rd if I am really desperate to get it dry in least amount of time. Regardless, my hay always smells wonderful. Every haying is different, and I do what I have to do to put up the the best hay that I can under the circumstance at hand. This post was edited by rankrank1 at 20:11:53 08/12/14.
Re: Who Does NOT Condition Their Hay? in reply to rankrank1, 08-12-2014 20:08:56
Thanks for the response. I have a 3 pt mounted JD350 rake with a manual and found a manual for the 594 online. The reference to "Making Hay the John Deere Way" in both manuals are identical - so if moisture is a problem, I'll give turning the wind row per the manual a try.
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