Knot Knowledge: Tying Knots for Baling Hay

Whether you need to connect balls of twine in the baler or secure a load of hay, you’ve no doubt found yourself continuously in need of a strong knot.

By Tharran E. Gaines | Illustrations by Ray E. Watkins

Did You Know? In general, most knots can be divided into four different categories: Stoppers, knots, at the end of a rope or twine; Bends, used to tie two lines together; hitches, used to secure a rope to an object; and loops, used to make a noose loop at the end of a rope or twine strand.

Unfortunately, most of us limit our repertoire to just a handful of knots when there are literally hundreds available.

Baler Knots. While we’re on the subject, here are a couple of tips about one of the most common knots for baling: square knots.

According to Brent Miller, AGCO technical service trainer for hay equipment, most producers simply use a square knot for joining balls of twine. “That’s usually adequate for both sisal and plastic twine, as long as it’s pulled tight,” he says.

“The important thing is the knot needs to be small enough to pass through the twine tension plates, and the twine tension needs to be adjusted within the specifications listed in the operator’s manual. Since sisal twine is generally larger in diameter than plastic, the tension will need to be adjusted when going from one to the other.”

Danger. A square knot is simple, right? “Right over left, left over right.” Unfortunately, it’s also one of the easiest to do wrong. If the second half of a square knot is tied in reverse, you end up with a granny knot, which is considered to be one of the least trustworthy knots ever developed.

That said, you might want to follow the lead of some baler operators and use a sheet bend knot, also known as a weaver’s knot. One advantage of the sheet bend is that it’s more reliable, especially when used to secure two pieces of twine or rope that are different in diameter. See myFarmLife.com/sheetbend for a quick-and-easy diagram on how to tie the sheet bend.