The other day, P.J. called from the Fairfax, South Dakota area. He mentioned that he had been busy the past few weeks cutting hay, both in the field and ditches as well.

The hay that's collected from ditches around the state of South Dakota is important to producers. It can be difficult cutting the grass and baling it in some of the steep ditches along the backroads. My friend Dan from the Armour/Wagner area says they usually use a hydro-swing to cut the hay but on some of the steeper ditches, he said they still use an old sickle mower to cut it down. On some of the lesser traveled roads, they actually rake the hay 'up onto the gravel road' in order to bale it easier!

I had asked P.J. if he almost leaned to the left or right after getting done with ditches. He said some of them can get kind of steep when I'm doing those, I like to use the tractor with duals to help distribute the weight of the tractor a little better.

Cutting hay along South Dakota Highways is generally a little easier. Of course, you have to deal with traffic, but the hay is usually easier to get to. The hay collected from the ditches along the highways come with other restrictions. According to SD.GOV;

No mowing of the right of way may begin in the west river counties of Gregory, Lyman or Tripp before June 15 and east of the Missouri River before July 10. All mowing by a permit must be completed by Sept. 1 each year.

The department may mow medians and areas within the rights of way prior to June 15 to control noxious weeds and provide increased safety to the traveling public

For questions, please contact the appropriate area engineer, contact information is available here:, or call the office of Operations Support at 605.773.3571.

Side note; in dry years farmers and cattlemen would maybe prefer to get first cut to the hay. I've heard from several producers that,  during dry times, the best grass is closer to the shoulder of the road because of precious moisture rolling off the grade of the road.

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