Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Hay season looks promising

Despite a delayed start the hay making season in northern Victoria is promising good yields.

LAURA GRIFFIN November 6, 2012 4:01am

Michael and Tim Gaffy had the baler out last week.

This year’s hay season might have started late, but growers are cautiously optimistic about the quantity and price.

They are hopeful there is not too much heavy rain in November that could spoil the bales that are on the ground. Rain is forecast for Tuesday and Wednesday.

Mooroopna farmer Michael Gaffy said his 150ha of lucerne had taken a while to cure.

‘‘And now we are looking down the barrel of rain (this) week. Everyone is,’’ Mr Gaffey said.

His team baled about 1800 small square bales on Friday morning, many of which will be sent to the top end of the horse market, including Flemington Racecourse and trainers.

‘‘We are looking at $10 a bale,’’ Mr Gaffy said.

Elmore hay farmer Colin Holmberg has had a good start to this year’s harvest.

He said last Friday, he and the other G Holmberg and Sons staff had cut 575ha and made at least 1000tonnes of hay.

‘‘Our drivers have been flat out,’’ Mr Holmberg said.

He predicted the amount of hay harvested this year would be similar to last year. He said the business would probably do between 4000tonnes and 5000tonnes of export oaten hay by season’s end.

Mr Holmberg said so far, they had had reasonable crop quality.

He said the showers on Thursday had given them the required moisture in the hay and had allowed them to do more baling.

Mr Holmberg hoped for strong hay prices again this year.

‘‘At this stage, I don’t know exactly what price we are going to get. It’s contracted for premium hay up to $180 a tonne. This year, they had a $40 to $50 top-up per tonne payment for the 2011 hay harvest.’’

He said it would be great if such a top-up price was repeated.

‘‘But it depends on international supply and demand.’’

WB Hunter agronomist Tristan Hornbuckle agreed this hay-making season had started quieter than in previous years and was running a bit late.

‘‘The timing of rain has been unusual. I think we will end up with about an average rainfall for the year, but we got most of it back in March,’’ Mr Hornbuckle said.

‘‘It would have been better if there had been more rainfall in the winter.’’

The Shepparton-based agronomist said recent temperatures had also held back some hay production.

‘‘It’s been pretty cool and some guys are finding it hard to cure their hay. We haven’t had that hot snap.’’

He said relatively warm temperatures in November would be ideal for hay growth, but heavy rain could cause problems to hay on the ground.

Mr Hornbuckle has also noticed more farmers producing hay rather than silage.

‘‘It comes down to costs,’’ he said.

He said most good to excellent cereal hay would go to export markets.

‘‘Any good hay available locally, farmers will probably buy at between $175 to $180 a tonne, which is a little bit up from last year.’’

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