Crops are heading towards hay

By Country News

Cropping farmers are battling through a tough season, with many crops having to be cut for hay.

That’s the verdict from WB Hunter field services manager Graeme Talarico, who said hay this season would be a ‘‘mixed bag’’.

‘‘A lot of crops won’t finish off well,’’ he said.

‘‘The crops won’t have finished off the way we would have liked and some broadacre farmers have been hit by frost.’’

In terms of yield, Mr Talarico said he expected hay would be hard to find.

‘‘They (hay varieties) are all going to struggle. Vetch and lucerne hay will be tight.

‘‘Yield will be down for crops put in for hay but there will be a little bit of hay that would have been grain if it could have been finished off.’’

Mr Talarico said if rain was to come, it had to come soon.

‘‘It would help some but it would have to come quick,’’ he said.

‘‘If we don’t get rain in the next week it’s going to be too late, unless you have irrigation of course.’’

Advanced Ag Shepparton agronomist Luke Nagle said the quality of the hay may be the only positive from this season’s crops.

‘‘When we are talking about quality, we are looking at protein and energy levels, the ease of digestibility and the sugar content of the hay,’’ Mr Nagle said.

‘‘These are better in drought years. In terms of how it appears, hay grown on dryland looks to be below average yields while irrigation looks really good in terms of yield.

‘‘In terms of the outlook, the forecast — it’s not looking good for tonnage per hectare but the quality of the hay is the only real positive.’’

Mr Nagle said if rain was to come, it would have to come before the end of the month for it to count.

‘‘AFL Grand Final weekend would be definitely the cut off,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s all over for some now but not everyone — but in another three weeks, mowers will be out everywhere.’’