Hay quality ‘a mixed bag’

By Dairy News

CROPPING FARMERS are battling through a tough season, with many crops in northern Victoria and southern NSW having to be cut for hay.

That’s the verdict from WB Hunter field services manager Graeme Talarico, based in northern Victoria, 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.”

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.”