ASK Jeff: The Rodale Institute’s farm manager, Jeff Moyer, answers your hardcore farming questions

Hay for horses in Mississippi

Posted January 27, 2005

What Jeff brings to the table

Jeff Moyer, who’s been the farm manager here at the 333-acre Rodale Institute research farm for more than a quarter of a century, receives lots of mail from farmers just like you asking for advice. Jeff’s hands-in-the-dirt experience over the past 26 years has run the gamut from refining the farm's cover cropping and crop rotation systems (including managing 270 acres in a rotation of corn, small grains, hay, and edible soy beans for a Japanese market) to overseeing The Rodale Institue Farming Systems Trial®, the world’s longest running side-by-side comparison of organic and conventional agriculture. We thought it would be fun and informative to share some of these farmer-to-farmer exchanges, and Jeff’s practical wisdom, with our readers … and we’ll be doing it on a regular basis.

Got a question of your own? Send it to Jeff at:

Dear Jeff,

I live in northeast Walnut, Mississippi (20 miles west of Corinth) and have a top-ridge farm. I have mostly fescue with some Bermuda. There was [Sericea] lespedezia, but that
was killed with last year's spraying for broadleaf weeds.

There are about 60 acres where I want to grow hay for horses.

Fescue and horse people don't mix here, and I have heard stories about red clover, alfalfa, orchard grass, T44, and so forth. What I need is the best cash crop for the area for the horse customers (all square baling).

I don't mind putting in the effort now as this is part of my retirement income.

Thanks for your guidance and advice,
Dave Cable

Dear Dave,

I don't have any firsthand experience with Mississippi agriculture, so I can't tell you what will grow well for you. But I can tell you what folks here in Pennsylvania grow for horses and the types of crops we produce. Most horse folks are looking for quality in any hay they buy. That means the bright green color of young hay cut and made at the right time. Most want a mixture of grass and legumes. For us that means timothy and alfalfa. While I can sell other mixes, this is the one that does the best for me. I know we do alright with orchard grass, but we tend to stay away from clover and fescue. Talk to your county Extenstion agent to find varieties that will grow well in your part of the country, and pay attention to that quality issue.

Hope that helps,


Have some questions to Ask Jeff? E-mail him directly at