It's a mixed bag for hay producers

Rain lashes SA crop, but Victoria largely unaffected

Cropping
SILAGE PROGRAM: Invergordon, Vic, hay contractor Luke Felmingham has just finished a large silage program.

SILAGE PROGRAM: Invergordon, Vic, hay contractor Luke Felmingham has just finished a large silage program.

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Victorian hay producers say recent rain has failed to dampen their enthusiasm for this year's crop, with small falls having little effect.

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Victorian hay producers say recent rain has failed to dampen their enthusiasm for this year's crop, with small falls having little effect.

But in South Australia, Australian Fodder Industry Association chair Brad Griffiths, said it had been one of the worst hay seasons, he'd seen, due to the rain.

"It's fairly widespread, as well, because there's heaps of hay on the ground that's going to be damaged," Mr Griffiths said.

"It's all the way from the west coast, through to everywhere above the south-east."

In Victoria, he said there was still a fair amount of hay to be cut.

"Some of the main areas might have dodged a bullet. Quality and price go hand in hand, so it's going to have a major effect on price and quality," he said.

"I have heard of hay crops selling for around $150-170 a tonne - that's almost a total write-of in my eyes."

Invergordon, Vic, hay contractor Luke Felmingham said he had just finished a large silage program.

"A lot of people in northern Victoria, around Shepparton and the Goulburn Valley, have finished their silage program and are about to begin their hay program," Mr Felmingham said.

"The rain just slowed people down a little bit. It prevented people cutting earlier because there was a forecast of heavy rain.

"It's been an interesting year. We had a nice, wet start and people got their crops in, on time, which means the hay is maturing fairly quickly now."

He said there had been some rust, in plants, because of the wet weather.

Dairy Australia Industry Insights and Analysis manager John Droppert said excellent pasture conditions provided the ability to maximise home-grown fodder conservation.

"Demand for hay seems to be very quiet, although there is some early interest in securing high-quality product for the year ahead," Mr Droppert said.

"The hay production outlook more broadly remains very strong, with the main issue being untimely rainfall impacting quality close to, or during, harvest."

Whilst it's early days, export hay that faces quality downgrades due to weather has the potential to increase the supply of hay domestically.

David Cossar, Charlton, Vic, said he only received 8-12 millimetres of rain, although some areas nearby received 20mm. He grows vetch for the domestic market and oaten hay for export.

"It's not going to do too much damage because a lot of hay has just been cut, so it's still high moisture anyhow," Mr Cossar said.

"Most of the moisture damage is caused when it's ready to bale, when it's almost dried out and absorbs the moisture, so it attracts mould.

"The domestic market has slid off the pace a bit since the drought broke in NSW and Queensland, that was what drove domestic prices as high as what they were."

Ashley Williams, Waaia, Vic, said he was growing lucerne, oaten hay and vetch.

The area received 15mm of rain, in the recent weather system.

"That's been good but we need to double that. We missed out on all the rain that was promised to us earlier," Mr Williams said.

"We got 2mm when they said we were going to get 10-15mm, so our crops are struggling. Some of the crop won't fill but for hay we don't want rain now.

"We have a foot in both camps - we need it to dry up so we can get our hay cut, cured and in the bale."

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The story It's a mixed bag for hay producers first appeared on Stock & Land.

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