Our family has a long history in the hay business. My great-grandfather and his family left the Texas Hill Country area in the 1940’s searching for more productive land to farm, as well as, more acreage. After a few moves they eventually settled in Webberville along the Colorado River, just east of Austin. The Colorado River bottom has very productive and fertile sandy loam soils well suited for agricultural production. They were proud tenant farmers, raising cotton, grain, hay, cattle, and sheep. My family leases some of the same land that our great grandparents and grandparents farmed when they first moved to the Webberville area. Moving forward to the 1970’s, our father and his brother had the desire to continue their agricultural heritage with a custom hay business. Together, and eventually with their wives, formed Turner Brothers Enterprises. They hauled and baled hay, operated a cow/calf operation, and custom sprig planting, as well as, various ag-related services such as fencing and hauling. During this time, they mostly operated on lease land as their father and grandfather did. This partnership lasted until 1989.
My parents continued to operate a hay and ranching business into the early 1990’s. They started small with a couple of lease places, custom baling, and a few cows. Over the next few years, they grew their operation with more lease land and more equipment, eventually allowing them to purchase their first river bottom place in 1999. That purchase was a proud moment for our family. That same year, my brother graduated from Texas A&M, and up until that point we mainly improved and operated lease land. We continued to grow and expand our operation. In 2006, a year after I graduated from Texas A&M, my dad, brother, and I along with our wives, established Turner Land & Hay Company with the purchase of our first place together. We continued to expand our market and production, eventually positioning ourselves to purchase more land. In 2011, we bought another place and began improving it with Coastal Bermuda and irrigation. Currently, we operate 1100 owned acres which is 80% irrigated, and an additional 1500 acres of lease land. This land is located along FM 969 and the Colorado River Bottoms of Webberville and Utley, east of Austin, Texas where my grandparents decided to settle and farm nearly 70 years ago.
In our operation, we are constantly trying new ideas, different equipment, and processes. Our operation has changed so much over the years. We don’t really do anything like we used to, from fertilizing to raking, baling, hauling, or even cutting hay like we used to. My dad started on all lease land and had a custom baling business too. It has been a long road and it has taken decades to get our operation where it is today, and we still have many more goals to reach and improvements to make. All of the evolvement and the desire to get better and faster have resulted in significant increases in efficiency and productivity. We have always tried to stay current and up-to-date on new technologies and techniques for making premium hay, especially with fertilizer and equipment advances. We are also advocates for listening and observing others too; because you may pick up an idea or a different angle on something. No one ever has it all figured out. When you think you do, that’s when you get passed by.
We fertilize every cutting with a strict and thorough fertility program derived from annual soil analysis, agronomist recommendations, and our own experiences. Our irrigation and fertilization program is vigorously applied throughout the year (every cutting) and during the “off season” (dormant) ensuring stress free grass. Utilizing our own Terra Gator sprayer allows us to apply fertilizer and herbicide when the grass needs it; not when a custom applicator can get to it. Our total product control process results in a high yielding, high quality hay with superior leaf to stem ratio and the deep green color our customers have become accustomed to. We harvest our hay at the optimal stage of maturity and moisture content with the aid of electronic monitors, which constantly evaluates the hay’s moisture as it is displayed in the tractors. Our process ensures a high quality, nutritious, and palatable feed for your livestock.
We take the entire haying process very seriously; we are not just baling excess grass. We are harvesting a carefully managed crop. Also, NO UNROLLED ROUND BALES at this operation. We bale our square bales in our fields.
In 1996, after many years of manually hauling and stacking hay, my dad brought the first Steffen System to the Southern United States from Salem, Oregon. This was a major game changer and set a trend for hay handling in Texas for many years. The Steffen System took all manual labor out of the hay handling process and served our operation well for nearly 15 years. While trying to find or develop a better and faster way to load hay, particularly in van trailers, we discovered Marcrest Manufacturing of Ontario, Canada. It was in 2009 when we bought another revolutionary hay handling system, The Bale Baron. This was the first pull type Bale Baron to operate in the United States, which changed small square bale handling forever. It did not take us long to realize we were on the right track. Five months later we bought our second Bale Baron, and now operate three. During this time we also incorporated Hydraulic Twin Hitches, invented and built by Chuck Hainsworth of Mt. Morris, New York. These hitches couple two square balers together to be pulled by one tractor, saving labor while increasing equipment efficiency. Our latest equipment addition to our haying process is Big M Mowers by Krone. These large cutters allow us to cover more acres faster, which results in a better and more consistent dry down of the hay, all while saving on labor.
Once our hay is baled and bundled, it is almost immediately loaded and hauled to the barn. Our barns are metal buildings with vapor barrier concrete floors, ensuring a well preserved and protected bale of hay.
Hay baling is our passion. We spend a lot of time observing and improving the land and grass; in an effort to be better stewards. A better observer is a better producer.
These previous statements are evident to anyone who has witnessed our haying process or fertilizer/spraying regimens. A lot of people bale excess grass, but few go to the extreme investment in time, equipment, and land to produce a consistent and quality bale of hay on a perennial basis.
One of our long term goals is to store every bale we produce under cover, round bales and square. We will continue to expand our storage capacity which currently consists of almost 3 acres under cover.
Our commitment to growth and quality will continue into the future with investments in land, facilities, and equipment.