Apart from some thunderstorms in east Gippsland it has largely been a dry week of weather across Victoria.
The Bureau of Meteorology updated its outlook for January to March 2019 and is forecasting average rainfall outcomes for Victoria, while suggesting the potential for above average temperatures.
The bureau has finalised its 2018 summary and it was the third warmest year for Victoria since records commenced in 1901. The results mean nine of the 10 warmest years on record have occurred since 2005.
Nationally, Australia's 2018 rainfall total was 11 per cent below the 1961–90 average, but many areas were significantly below average. For Victoria, rainfall was 25 per cent below the long term average and the lowest for the past twelve years.
Given how stark this summary is from the bureau, it does highlight how fortunate the season was for two out of the three major dairy areas of Victoria. Farmers across the Wimmera, Mallee and north-eastern parts of Victoria were clearly more disadvantaged than those closer to the coastal areas.
Clearly climate change is occurring and should this trend continue then Australia’s agricultural sector will have plenty of challenges to manage. Everyone is hoping 2019 brings an improvement in fortunes for Australia’s farming belt with average if not better than average annual rainfall.
Demand for hay across Victoria has gone very quiet to start 2019. Dairy farmers are unlikely to expend too much money on buying in additional fibre sources for the short to medium term, especially given their success at building up their own supplies.
The majority of dairy and cattle farmers across west Gippsland and Victoria have secured excellent supplies of hay and silage from their own farming operations.
Farmers are busy baling straw from cereal crops, hoping that cereal straw demand will pick up again in autumn.
Summer calving will commence in February and dairy farmers will be looking for protein sources rather than fibre in the lead up to this period.
In the Goulburn Valley dairy farmers appear to be showing more interest in grain and other by-products than hay.
Farmers appear to be willing sellers of canola hay at the moment, again demand for this hay remains subdued.
A positive for Victoria’s dairy farmers has been the rebuilding of hay stocks. Not only have growers produced pasture and protein hays such as lucerne but many cereal and canola crops were also cut. This buffer may prove to be a welcome development for Victoria’s dairy farmers later in 2019.