GFB News Magazine

Spontaneous hay combustion a hot topic at GFB Convention

Posted on February 15, 2019 12:00 AM

University of Georgia Extension Forage Specialist Dennis Hancock discussed how harvested hay heats and catches fire while addressing the Hay Committee meeting at the 2018 Georgia Farm Bureau Convention.

Hancock gave a scientific breakdown of the activity that occurs in stored hay when moisture, carbohydrates, oxygen and microorganisms are present. The microorganisms feed on the carbohydrates, which generates heat. When the hay temperature approaches 175 degrees it can catch fire. Hancock recommended taking steps to accelerate drying the hay down to the target range (below 20 percent for small rectangular bales, 18 per-cent for round bales and 15 percent for large rectangular bales), as well as monitoring the heat in stored hay.

“As long as the temperature stays below 125 degrees Fahrenheit, things are safe. There is minimal dry matter loss and it’s not going to catch on fire,” Han-cock said. 

Above 125 degrees, a shift to fungi that thrive on heat begins to occur, causing damage to the protein in the hay.

“When you get up into this danger zone here, you really need to be monitoring temperature regularly through the day, two or three times a day, making sure that it’s not getting any hotter,” Hancock said. If the hay temperature is above 160 degrees, Hancock urged farmers to call the fire department before removing bales, which adds oxygen to already flammable conditions.

For more details about spontaneous hay combustion, visit

GFB also announced the winners of its annual hay contest in the Hay Committee meeting. Marty

Knowles of Telfair County won the contest with a Coastcross II sample, which had a Relative Forage Quality (RFQ) score of 160.45. Mike McCravy of Carroll County claimed second place with a sample of Tift 85 that had an RFQ of 146.5. Swayne Cochran of Jackson County, who submitted a Tift 44 sample with an RFQ of 137.21, was third. Eric Hall of Franklin County (Alicia, 132.68 RFQ) was fourth and Farrell Roberts of Tift County (Coastal, 124.88) was fifth.

The Hay Committee meeting was one of many meetings held at the convention for the 20 major commodities produced in Georgia. These educational sessions gave farmers crop and livestock produc-tion tips, as well as updates on trade and legislative efforts in Washington, D.C. Here’s a sampling:


GFB National Affairs Counsel Tripp Cofield discussed Congressional disaster relief efforts.

(D- 2nd Dist.) and Austin Scott (R-8th Dist.) filed an amendment Jan. 16 to the 2019 Supplemental Appropriations Act that en- sures $3 billion will be appropriated to the Wildfire and Hur- ricane Indemnity Program to provide relief for farmers impacted by Hurricane Michael and other natural disasters in 2018. The House passed the amendment.

U.S. Sens. David Perdue and Johnny Isakson introduced a $3 billion disaster relief package in the Senate on Jan. 30 nearly identical to Bishop and Scott’s House amendment.


UGA Extension Pecan Specialist Lenny Wells discussed how U.S. imports of Mexican pecans are lowering prices grow- ers are receiving. Wells said he is hearing reports of U.S. shell-

ers buying large volumes of nuts from Mexico, which can pro- duce pecans for less than U.S. growers. He said the cheaper Mexican pecan imports, that are of a lower quality, threaten to put smaller U.S. growers out of business.


Georgia Cotton Commission (GCC) Executive Director Richey Seaton presented the GCC’s education, research and promotion efforts, emphasizing the importance of research being done by UGA Extension Cotton Specialist Stanley Culpepper on minimizing cotton injury while treating fields to control Palmer amaranth, as well as studies on how the weight of planting equip- ment affects soil texture and the uniformity of plant emergence, insecticide resistance and fiber quality.