One Customer’s Experience Changed the Way We View the Steamer
Margins in farming are small and doing the little things often has a huge impact on the big things. When we first started selling the steamer we had our selling points – Higher leaf retention, bale weight, bale quality, consistency, increased baling windows, etc. It wasn’t until we produced a video testimonial with one of our early customers named Ryan Schwebach that we realized there was more to the steamer than we even thought. What we didn’t realize or hadn’t even considered in our selling approach was the fact that the steamer not only affects the baling process itself, but that the steamer has just as big of an impact on the way you manage your cutting, raking, and hauling. Astonishingly, Ryan explained that because of the steamer, he gained an entire extra cutting (Click HERE to watch the testimonial).
Although we can’t guarantee our customers an entire extra cutting like Ryan, we are confident that the steamer can increase your last cutting yields and change your entire operation for the better. Another customer, the Brackens in Enterprise, Utah, also experienced first hand what Ryan was talking about.
Bracken Farms’ Last Cutting is No Longer a Short Crop
Like many other steamer owners around the world, the Brackens experienced the result of being able to put the hay up in a timely manner and get the water back on their fields sooner. What was the result? Like Ryan, it was an increase in their last cutting yields. What used to be a short clipping each year for the Brackens is now a 1.5-2 tons per acre cutting. Considering the size of their operation of 1,600 acres, it’s made a huge impact on their bottom line. So, how does the steamer contribute to these yield increases on the last cuttings? This article discusses the principles of how the steamer increases last cutting yields, how to properly balance a farming operation to take advantage of extra growing days, and what impact that can have on the bottom line.
It’s All About Growing Days
Farmers understand the fact that hay grows much faster in the warm summer months than it does in the fall. 1 growing day in June, July or the first half of August may equate to nearly 1 week of growth in September. Hay grows much faster in warmer temperatures than it does in the fall when the weather is cool. Being able to cut, rake, bale the hay, and get the water back on the fields quicker adds valuable growing days in the summer when the weather is warmest. All of these warm growing days add up at the end of the year when the weather is cool. Those added growing days are huge when it comes to last cutting yields and the steamer plays a large part in that.
Getting a Bigger Last Cutting is Possible with the Steamer
Typically, our customers experience a 0.25-1 ton per acre yield increase because of the steamer. They are cutting more acres per day, and they are baling it up in a timely manner without having to wait for the perfect natural dew. Mike Adams, a steamer owner in Parowan, Utah, states:
As Mike states, the steamer enables you to cut more hay because you know you will be able to bale it up. It also allows you to schedule your harvest much better as you confidently decide how much hay you want to cut, rake, and bale each day. Speeding up each of these operations will lead to quicker turnover of the crop and allow you to get the water back on the fields.
Current and Prospective Steamer Owners Should Consider “Balancing” Their Operation
Buying a steamer in and of itself will not magically make your last cuttings better. Being able to tap into this end-of-the-year yield increase when using the DewPoint steamer depends on you. Speeding up your hay harvest on each cutting, eliminating delay days and staying “on schedule” is the key. This takes some planning to balance your operation well before your harvest season starts.
DewPoint technology becomes a centerpiece of this type of planning. Baling hay has always been a “pinch point” of productivity. Not anymore. In nearly every climate where dry hay is baled, DewPoint machines open a 12-24 hour/day baling window with consistent bale moisture and quality from the first bale to the last each day. The main point is to decide how many acres you want to bale each day and purchase the necessary equipment to get the job done. This may mean that you need to purchase more windrowers or rakes in order to put enough hay on the ground to keep up with the steamer.
The farms that see substantial yield increases on their last crop will typically bale 25-35% of their total alfalfa acreage on each day so they have a 3-4-day baling window. Take the Brackens for example. They could easily bale their 1,600 acres with 1 steamer, but they run 2 steamers and bale 1,600 acres in 3 days. From the first field they cut till they stack the last bale of hay into the barn, they shoot for 10 days. They’ve purchased the necessary windrowers and rakes in order to keep that schedule and it’s more than paid for the extra equipment. Our next blog will solely focus on the concept of “Balancing Your Operation”.
What Does All This Mean for the Bottom Line
We’ve talked about how the steamer can increase yields on last cuttings, but what does that mean for the bottom line? Last cutting hay is usually the highest quality hay and will test the best because of how fine the stems are and how leafy the hay is. This makes getting the added yield even more attractive. Let’s just say you operate a 1,000-acre farm irrigated mainly by center pivots. You get 4 cuttings per year, and on your last cutting you typically get 1 ton per acre. Then you purchase a steamer, and throughout the year you are able to speed up each harvest and add growing days to the hay. Conservatively, if you were to add even 0.25 tons of yield to your last cutting of alfalfa, you would gain around 250 tons on the year that you wouldn’t have gained otherwise. 250 tons multiplied by the current hay prices of around $220/ton equals roughly $55,000. Now, let’s say that you were able to gain 0.5 tons of yield on your last cutting. That’s an extra 500 tons of hay and over $100,000 of extra income because of the steamer. As Ryan Schwebach states, “That pays the bills very well.”
The DewPoint steamer does more than make great quality hay. It makes it easier to cut, rake, bale, and get the water back on the fields quicker, which has a huge effect on the bottom line. It’s also critical that you balance your operation with the equipment you need to speed up the harvest cycle. If you are interested to see how the steamer pencils out on your farm contact us. Stay tuned for our next blog where we focus entirely on how to best balance your operation while utilizing DewPoint steam technology.