NSW | SA | VIC
Thursday, 24 April 2014 The brilliant start to the winter growing period for crops and pastures in SA, has been matched by similar conditions through most of Vic, and the southern two thirds of NSW.A large area through the central and south east of Australia now has autumn-generated green feed for sheep and cattle.Consequently, the demand for hay for hand feeding of sheep and cattle is reducing weekly.Hay is still moving from SA areas to markets in central NSW, but it is the follow-on logistics from business deals done seven weeks, or more ago.Fresh contracts in hay are slow and at prices well down on those of mid-February.The February rains here and in central NSW were great for germinating winter active grasses and giving them enough time with wet soils to establish. However, mid-February is an important time for lucerne hay production.It is typically the time when growers are taking their third cut from irrigation paddocks. The second and third cuts usually produce the best hay because growth rates are then high, meaning a more elongation between nodes, and thinner stems.This relates to a higher leaf to stem ratio when the hay is chaffed.But the same rain through a wide area of south eastern Australia damaged a lot of the lucerne hay that was on the ground curing.February curing times are usually short, often only seven to 10 days.Quick curing usually means brighter hay, an important consideration, especially in the more expensive horse hay markets.Around Cowra, NSW, horse quality lucerne hay, roughly equivalent to chaffing quality lucerne hay, is still making $350 a tonne delivered.But lucerne hay, that was caught down curing, and received 40 or so millimetres of rain on it was heavily discoloured and leached of feed value by the time it was baled.This weather damaged lucerne hay is only making $250 a tonne at Cowra, and competing in some segments with cereal hay from southern NSW and further afield. Similarly, the 40mm of rain received in February damaged lucerne hay being cured in the SA Murray Valley.Also, a number of second cut dryland crops were weather damaged, but most of the irrigated hay comes from the South East.The South East missed out on the bulk of the two significant rains, the first in February, and the second just pre Easter.This means most of the hay from the South East is not weather damaged.The South East has been an area that has missed out on summer and early autumn rains, but on the positive side the quality of the standing dry feed was excellent, having avoided the usual leaching that summer rains cause.In addition, the larger dairy farms in this region all have irrigation, which makes milk production less reliant on summer rains to keep the feed green.Irrigated feed corn crops have grown well under irrigation, but with cooler temperatures crops are losing the green colour, and turning yellow, thus not making any more above ground dry matter.Silage making of this quality feed has been in progress since early April.

Lucerne Vetch/Oats Medic/Clover/Vetch Cereal Hay Cereal Straw Pea Straw Ryegrass Hay
Adelaide Hills 290-345 180-210 235-245 190-230 115-150 165-180 175-195
Fleurieu Pen. 270-295 185-200 200-220 175-210 120-135 150-165 150-175
Mid North 240-290 180-195 190-200 170-195 80-105 100-115 150-170
Yorke Pen. 225-250 180-200 190-210 160-190 85-100 90-105 150-170
Upper S.E. 225-255 175-190 200-210 165-200 85-120 110-125 160-170
Lower S.E 215-250 180-205 200-205 190-210 100-125 105-125 150-165
Murray Mallee 225-250 185-200 195-210 175-190 80-115 95-115 155-180
Eyre Pen. 220-260 170-190 190-2050 160-175 85-105 75-95 150-170





All prices $/tonne (GST-exclusive)


Source: Rural Press Limited
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