Cropping

Positive outlook for hay making season

By Jamie Salter

Off the back of promising seasonal weather, the fodder season for the Murray region is realising great results, with silage making well under way and other crops going into final growth stages before haymaking.

Solid winter rainfall, easing irrigation prices and supplementary water available in NSW are resulting in large yields for silage.

Conditions for chopping and baling have been optimal, with a dryer July meaning later rainfall has drained freely, still allowing good access to paddocks.

Murray Dairy strategic project manager Amy Fay said farmers were reporting that quality remained, and was best achieved by having a clear goal and clearly communicating with contractors.

“Many farmers are ensiling winter cereals in addition to pasture,” she said.

“It is important to remember that particularly in whole crop cereal silage, there is a trade-off between yield and quality depending on the stage of growth the crop is cut, and farmers are encouraged to closely monitor their crops to achieve their desired cutting time.

“In addition, in contrast to pasture, cereal silage expands much more quickly due to its hollow stems and needs to be packed and sealed or wrapped as soon as possible.

“Hay yields look to be as equally promising, but forecasts for a wetter spring may make baling a little more difficult.

“Surrounding dryland and irrigation areas are providing great opportunities for supplementary hay and silage for dairy farmers, but it will be critical for farmers to ask for quality tests and negotiate prices correspondingly.”

The latest hay and grain report from Dairy Australia has prices remaining steady in the region, with very little demand.

“Crops in the area are doing well with the warm days. Many growers put out a second application of urea before the last rain,” the report states.

“Advanced crops are being made into silage, however most farmers are still four weeks away from cutting hay.”

Cereal hay is currently fetching $190 to $220/tonne, while lucerne hay is being sold for $450 to $500/tonne and pasture hay for $250 to $330/tonne.