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Baling in Monsoon or Moderate Humidity Conditions

The Monsoon Season

For many, the monsoon seasons have arrived, which makes it difficult to put up hay. Often, the hay is too wet during the night to bale, and too dry during the day. If you’re lucky, you might find a short window of time where the hay is just right. It’s challenging, but the steamer can make it much easier. This blog discusses how to best utilize the DewPoint steamer in moderate humidity conditions. If you are dealing with high humidity conditions, check out our blog on baling in high humidity conditions where we discuss baling with stem moisture and using a preservative.

Baling During The Day

When baling in moderate humidity conditions or during monsoon seasons when the moisture from natural dew is too high at night, many DewPoint machine operators will wait until the nighttime dew is gone in the late morning or early afternoon and then start baling. In these conditions most baling will be done in the afternoon and early evening hours before the natural dew sets in too heavy again.

Applying Steam During The Day

In the morning, when the sun comes up, the heavy nighttime dew starts to burn off and sink to the bottom of windrow, leaving the top of the windrow dry and crispy. With the steamer, you can use the dew at the bottom of the windrow, and inject steam into the top of the windrow. As you bale throughout the day, you can make steam adjustments as you see fit to keep the moisture in each bale consistent. For more on adjusting steam rates click here. DewPoint machine operators will typically be able to bale hay with steam throughout the day and maintain good moisture, and by using the Gazeeka moisture sensor, you will know how much steam to apply to keep the moisture in an acceptable range. For more on using the gazeeka to judge bale moisture read this blog.

Conclusion

Dealing with humid conditions while trying to find the perfect baling window is tough, but being able to make quality hay during the day when the hay is dry makes it much easier. Alan Adams, steamer owner in Parowan, Utah states, “It’s a dream come true to be able to produce ‘dew’ when you need it. If you ask me my favorite thing about it, it’s absolutely the versatility of being able to deal with so many situations and have one thing that can change the game for you.

Baling in High Humidity Conditions or with Stem Moisture

Steam is Still Effective in High Humidity Situations

In our last blog post (click HERE to read) we talked about baling with steam in very dry conditions.  This blog covers how to effectively use steam in high humidity conditions where climatic or weather conditions do not allow the hay to become fully dry and cured.

Steam is most effective at softening the crop material when the hay is allowed to fully cure and dry before baling, but even in the driest, most arid parts of the world, most farmers still experience periods of time where achieving complete dry-down of the hay prior to baling is nearly impossible. E.g., In Utah, we experience monsoon seasons in the late summer which make it hard to get fully cured hay. Some parts of the world find it difficult to ever get fully cured hay.  In situations like this, where you may even be forced to bale with stem moisture, steam is still an effective way to retain leaves during the baling process.

Using Preservative Spray With Steam

In high humidity conditions when you are unable to cure the hay completely and stem moisture is present, the use of a hay preservative along with steam treatment to maintain leaves can be effective. Hay producers know that during these conditions the leaves are often still dry and brittle, while the stems still contain moisture.  Steam can be applied at moderate rates to soften and preserve the leaves while hay Preservative can also be added at appropriate rates to meet the requirements of overall moisture level of the hay being baled.

When baling in these high-humidity conditions it is advisable to bale during the daytime hours when the hay is as dry as possible.

Using the Gazeeka Moisture Gauge

The use of the Gazeeka Moisture Gauge is very helpful to ensure your bales are within a tolerable moisture range. The Gazeeka moisture sensor is a non-contact microwave sensor that transmits high frequency electromagnetic waves between two antennae.  The two antennae are mounted on the baler so as to analyse the hay bale as it exits the baler.  These moisture readings are then transmitted to a monitor in the tractor cab.  It’s important that you monitor bale moisture and apply the appropriate amount of recommended preservative. For more information on judging bale moisture with the Gazeeka check out a previous blog by clicking HERE.

Know Your Limits

We do not recommend baling with “Stem Moisture” with or without steam unless:

  • You are using a proven preservative product
  • You have tested the preservative product along with the use of steam, and you know your limits

Increase Your Baling Windows in Wetter Climates

In high-humidity climates many farmers first start to bale in the late morning hours as the dew begins to burn off of the hay, which provides for a small baling window before the hay becomes too dry. Then, as the dew sets back in during the evening hours, farmers again will have a short baling window before the hay becomes too wet to bale.  These conditions make it difficult to not only produce consistent and quality hay but also to be productive with labor and equipment.

With the DewPoint hay steamer, farmers can typically bale during those hours of the day when the hay would otherwise be too dry to bale, which increases baling windows, allowing operators to be more productive.  Many steamer owners are able to reduce tractor and baler fleets because of increased baling windows.  This not only saves you money on capital and maintenance expenditures, but it also allows you to bale consistent and quality hay during those hours of the day when you would normally be shut down.

Monitoring Bale Moisture While Baling with the DewPoint Hay Steamer

Monitor Bale Moisture

With the DewPoint hay steamer, it’s possible to make consistent bales across a wide variety of windrow and weather conditions.  In this video and blog, we will discuss how to monitor bale moisture during baling, and how to adjust steam rates to reach your optimal moisture level.

The Gazeeka Moisture Sensor

In the video you will notice a small green control box above the steamer monitor.   That’s the monitor for the Gazeeka moisture sensor.  Most of our customer will either purchase a Gazeeka moisture sensor or some other kind of moisture sensor.  The Gazeeka moisture sensor is a non-contact microwave sensor that transmits high frequency electromagnetic waves between two antennae.  The two antennae are mounted on the baler so as to analyse the hay bale as it exits the baler.  The display unit in the cab provides moisture readings every few seconds.  We use these moisture readings to adjust how much steam we apply to the hay.

 

Adjusting Steam Rates for Desired Moisture Levels

We know that desired moisture levels vary from state to state.  In dryer, more arid states, operators aim for bale moisture content between 12-15%.  In wetter, more humid climates, bale moisture content will be higher, and preservative spray will often be used in conjunction with the DewPoint hay steamer.  In wetter climates, steam is still effective at maintaining leaves during baling.

Because the Gazeeka moisture sensor measures the bales as they are ejected from the baler, moisture readings will be 2 bales behind.  So, when making steam adjustments, it’s important to slowly increase steam rates.  Also, it’s important to remember that your steam rate changes will take 2 bales to show on the Gazeeka display unit in the cab.  In the video, Dave makes several small steam rate adjustments, but he makes sure to wait a few bales between each rate increase until he reaches his optimal moisture level.

Start on the Dry Side

When first starting to bale, it’s important to start off at a lower steam rate until the Gazeeka can provide you an accurate moisture reading.  Then, once you know your starting moisture level, you will be able to gauge how much you need to increase your steam rate.  It’s always better to bale the first few bales too dry than too wet.  If you want to read our blog about how to start baling with the DewPoint hay steamer click here.,