The worst drought in perhaps 75 years is causing people to question every alternative as they seek to salvage something out of this year's crop, or find an alternative to feed livestock. Sometimes you may find yourself grasping at straws.
Stop, take a deep breath, perhaps call your Extension educator, a Purdue University specialist, or even a neighbor or an ag dealer who can help you think through the consequences. Is what you have heard and now consider doing based on fact or rumor? Does it make sense in the long run? Are there risks that could turn a bad situation into a worse situation?
Here is a concrete example that makes the point.
Someone wants us to cut our corn with near zero yield and bale it up in big square bales for him. Is that a good way to salvage corn?
Ron Lemenager, Purdue University Extension beef specialist, will tell you that chopping it into silage, if that is still an option, would be much better. He would also tell you to get a nitrate test, a release from crop insurance, and notify the Farm Service Agency before you do anything.
Lemenager's concern with hay is that even if you test for nitrates and cut high, supposedly leaving more nitrates in the stalk you leave behind, you run the risk of getting a bale that is in a spot higher with nitrates that you tested for. Even one 'hot' bale from a field (meaning it's high in nitrates) could kill cattle. Nitrate can be very toxic. He prefers making silage instead if you have to salvage it. He still recommends testing for nitrates, but notes that at least with making silage, there's a better chance that plant material from high-nitrate areas will be mixed and diluted with material from lower nitrate areas.
If you or someone you sold hay to ends up losing cows, the hay made out of drought-stressed corn could prove to be very expensive for someone.