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

Is it too late to plant hay in Massachusetts?

Posted October 14, 2004

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 Massachusetts. Two falls ago, a lessee planted rye in my fields after years of corn. Last year, he let it go by so that the weeds finally came through. This spring, when he didn’t return, I put in Sudan grass to try to slow down the weeds. I've harvested that and just finished tilling it in. I'd like to put in hay for feed. Can I get away with it this late? If not, any ideas?

Thanks for any suggestions,
Ken Cranson


Dear Ken,

Sorry for the late response; I’ve been traveling. Even as of Oct. 5, it’s really too late to get hay started. You could try timothy grass hay that would work this late, then frost seed something on top in early spring to get a good grass/legume mix. You could also plant the timothy with wheat at this time of the year. If none of that suits you, you’ll need to think of rye again or maybe a late planting of spring oats that will winter kill, leaving a nice clean start for spring yet protecting the soil through the winter.

Good Luck and thanks for your patience,


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