Tarps and canopy structures are a common sight on farms. While larger canopy shelters are ideal for protecting equipment and for use as run-in sheds, tarps keep certain crops protected from moisture and mold. Hay tarps, made from heavy-duty polyethylene, have these features. All hay tarps are treated to be waterproof, UV resistant, rot proof, and mildew resistant, and when surrounding bales of hay, they keep out moisture and significantly reduce damage from mold, mildew, and rot.
Hay tarps are typically large and wrap around formations of hay bales. Although the bales themselves range from 48 to 72 inches across, three or more are stacked together and wrapped with a tarp. The bales are stacked in triangular formations, with the smallest size being two on the bottom and one on top for a 2-1 stack. Larger formations are 2-2-1 for stacking five bales, 3-2-1 for six, and 4-3-2-1 for 10. Because all of these resemble triangles, the hay tarp is wrapped around the edges, with a few additional feet needed at the end for an overlap.
Hay tarps are an alternative to storing your crop inside a barn and, in some cases, may even be better. The tarps protect all bales from mold and rot, which can destroy a large portion of your crop, and keep moisture out. But because you want moisture to stay as far away from the hay as possible, the location for your bale formation is important. All bales and tarps need to be kept in a location with good drainage. This can be a place with a runoff or a flat area with a drain. In any case, the bales shouldn’t be stacked in an area where water accumulates easily.
Larger tarps are always recommended for storing hay. When using 4-3-2-1 formations for your crop, bales with diameters of 48 inches need a 30 foot by 50 foot tarp. Stacked larger bales, such as those with diameters of 72 inches, need 40 foot by 60 foot tarps.