It may not be the most traded type of hay, but pasture hay, in combination with silage, makes up almost two-thirds of Victoria’s hay production.
And with canola being cut for hay at an increased rate due to the drought, it should be having a significant influence on the market, but prices are not at the same extremities as other types.
That’s according to JumbukAG director Colin Peace, who said on paper, vetch hay and canola hay should be trading at similar levels because they are similar proteins, but “the market’s got a different view”.
In this record hay and silage selling environment, where cereal prices have more than tripled year-on-year and wheat prices almost doubled, Mr Peace said the market has seen canola hay prices trading at about $50/tonne less than the premium.
He said the Mallee was trading at about $300/tonne for canola hay, and the Wimmera at about $270/tonne.
But he said the “jury’s still out” on where hay prices will go with NSW and Queensland graziers still requiring feed but not having the capacity to grow much of their own.
Last financial year, 400,000 tonnes of Victorian hay was transported north, with a similar amount coming out of South Australia.
He said that was a “massive” amount, considering Victoria generally grows 2.8 million tonnes a year.
“I can’t imagine that NSW graziers are going to be growing the same amount of hay this year, with culling and affordability changing the equation,” he said.
And he credited late September frosts in multiple parts of the state to giving canola growers the “heebie-jeebies” and getting the ball rolling for canola hay production this year.
But he said they really had their act together this year.
“A lot of canola growers have taken on the hard lessons learned 10 years ago, and have got things off to an early start,” he said.
He estimated that 80-90 per cent of growers in the Riverina have cut their canola for hay.
He also estimated that the Goulburn Valley and North-East would be big contributors, with 40pc of total Victorian canola hay to come from the Goulburn Valley, and 25pc to come from the North-East.
“Overall, I would say that Victoria’s production is going to be more than what you’d normally expect, but of course, we’ll be facing some pretty massive demand, with NSW not going away,” he said.
He said the fortunes of southern Victoria would determine what happens with the hay market for the rest of the year.
Are you cutting canola for hay? Let us know how it is going in the comments below.