Rains too late for farmers in state’s north

November rains too late for farmers in Victoria's north


A cold, wintery blast moved across much of Victoria last week.


A cold, wintery blast moved across much of Victoria last week. High winds, snow and heavy rain fell across much of the state.

Gippsland recorded falls of 20-40mm, while western Victoria had 10-20mm.

If only these better than average November totals came in September or October – definitely a month or two too late for Victoria’s northern farmers.

Across the better areas of Victoria, notably western Victoria and Gippsland, these November rains have been welcome as they have extended what has already been an excellent season. Ongoing rain has ensured an excellent season of pasture and fodder growth, allowing Victoria’s dairy farmers to boost silage and hay production.

The latest rains will encourage many dairy farmers to cut further silage and, possibly, even another round of hay.

Many Gippsland farmers now have the moisture to plant summer crops, something most had put on the back burner after the extremely dry September. East Gippsland recorded some of its best rainfall totals for the year during November.

Given the uncertainty surrounding access to water availability due to the dry year and the high cost of irrigated water, this late spring rain will allow further cost savings for some north-east and Gippsland farmers.

Home-grown fodder, whether silage or hay, will be a real benefit to dairy farmers this year as they bunker down by keeping feed costs under control.

In the north-east, irrigated crops such as lucerne, clover and even cereals continue to be cut for hay. Hay quality has been high for those crops that have been baled without any rainfall events.

For others, the ongoing rain is likely to have compromised some of the hay quality; this is likely across parts of west Gippsland and Victoria.

Barley prices have fallen sharply over the past week as China has put an anti-dumping case in place against Australian barley.

Lower barley values have the potential to put some downward pressure on hay prices towards the end of the year.

On the back of hay supplies being replenished across Victoria this season, demand for hay has been steady across the state. There’s still a large amount of hay still standing in paddocks that will need to move to ensure it is not weather damaged. 

There has also been some ongoing and solid rainfall across many parts of NSW and Queensland over the past month.

This should dampen demand for Victorian hay in the short to medium term, a good outcome for local consumers.

*Lloyd George, Ag Scientia


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