First came June??s heavy rains and floods. Then, the seemingly every-other-day forecast of rain. All adding up to a surplus of rain for Central New York this summer. In the last 3 months, rainfall totals at the Syracuse Hancock Airport have varied between 2 and 4 inches above average. Other areas have measured even more, impacting local farmers. One of the biggest problems they??re dealing with is a shortage of hay.
Julia Hudyncia, an Agricultural Sciences Teacher at Madison High School, details the harder-times to come. ??Farmers will find themselves in a shortage of feed for their animals when it comes to the fall, winter, and early next spring. So I think we may see a lot of neighborly relations, with bartering.??
Julia says this bartering likely means farmers will work with each other to ??shore-up?? each others resources. For example, one farmer may have a surplus of hay on the first cutting, while another may have that surplus on the second cutting. Working together, they can ??even-out?? their losses, and ultimately keep costs down.
Speaking of costs, you can probably imagine much of my conversation with Julia centered on the economic impacts of having too much water around this summer. However, there??s another rather interesting component to this story, and it has to do with safety hazards.
??If we??re trying to dry out this hay, it??s going to take maybe a day or two longer for the farmer to turn this hay and get it to officially dry out. So that when it actually gets compacted into a bale of hay, it doesn??t combust into a fire.??
She says hay bales are packed so tightly, that if there??s any moisture trapped in there, it will make the hay ferment. During this process, the bale will get so hot, it can actually spontaneously combust.
Clearly, farmers and animals alike are hoping for a drier finish to the summer.