Rusty Baker, of D&D Enterprises, rushes to bale hay in a field just off of Routt County Road 14B south of Steamboat Springs on Tuesday afternoon as storm clouds begin to build on the horizon. This summer’s wet weather has ranchers scrambling to get their hay baled between storms and has even prompted officials overseeing the Routt County Fair Contest to change rules to make it more convenient for hay growers to enter.

Photo by John F. Russell

Rusty Baker, of D&D Enterprises, rushes to bale hay in a field just off of Routt County Road 14B south of Steamboat Springs on Tuesday afternoon as storm clouds begin to build on the horizon. This summer’s wet weather has ranchers scrambling to get their hay baled between storms and has even prompted officials overseeing the Routt County Fair Contest to change rules to make it more convenient for hay growers to enter.

Mowing season for hay extended in Routt County

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— The hay harvest is late this summer thanks to abundant moisture, and Routt County Extension Office Director CJ Mucklow and his staff are making house calls. Or make that farm calls.

Mucklow said Monday that the rules of the Routt County Fair Contest have changed to make it more convenient for hay growers to enter. However, the deadline is coming up fast.

“Instead of (farmers and ranchers) bringing a bale to the Extension Office, we are going to go to individual hay producers and gather the sample out of the field or barn,” Mucklow said. “And now we can sample big bales and enter them, too.”

Mucklow’s office needs to hear from interested people no later than Monday in order to have time to gather all of the samples. Call 970-879-0825 to set up an entry.

The hay contest is judged by a laboratory analysis that determines the protein and energy content of the hay. The entry fee for the hay contest is $30 and there are three classes: meadow (grass) hay, first cutting of alfalfa and second cutting of alfalfa.

The Routt County Fair is Aug. 18-21 at the fairgrounds in Hayden.

Doug Carlson, who ranches near Clark, said he has cut 15 to 20 percent of his hay thus far, but the here today, gone tomorrow pattern of rain showers is keeping him guessing.

“It’s been fits and starts, Carlson said. “We’d like to think we’d be done by Labor Day, but I’m not so sure this year.”

Hay growers would like their freshly mown hay to have four or five days of sunshine in which to dry before baling. But for farmers and ranchers with large acreages, that means two or three weeks of consistently dry weather.

Carlson, for example, needs 20 days of cutting to get his crop on the ground.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com

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