Knowing when to make that last cut of hay isn’t always easy, especially when the changing seasons cause the weather to be in a constant state of flux. If you run the farm equipment too late, the roots might not have time to recover before the first freeze. Fortunately, there are some techniques that can provide some insight to help accurately determine the best time to harvest. 

Why It’s Important to Time the Final Cut

Hay tends to lose its crisp, healthy appearance after experiencing what is known as the “first killing frost.” This is when thin layers of moisture accumulate along each of the blades and freeze overnight, covering the ground in a sparkling coat. 

farm equipment

Without carefully timing the final cut, this sudden drop in temperature could shock the roots and prevent them from gathering the necessary nutrients. As a result, the crop might have difficulty coming back in the spring and could leave you with a disappointing harvest.  

How to Determine the Right Time

The first killing frost in much of North Carolina tends to occur during the last week of October. Giving the roots a full six weeks between the final cut and the first killing frost will ensure they have time to regain their strength before winter arrives. 

For this reason, mid-September is a wise target. Cutting too late in the season will only cause them to remain weak and susceptible to damage.


Ensure your farm equipment is ready for the harvest by working with Stanly Tractor Company of New London, NC. With more than 50 years as a tractor dealer, this locally owned company is known for maintaining a quality stock at some of the most competitive rates. They work with name-brand products, including Kubota® and Kawasaki®, and offer comprehensive equipment and tractor repair to ensure full functionality. Call (704) 983-1106 to schedule an appointment or visit their website for additional information on their available farm equipment.