Exceptionally hot weather returned to many parts of Victoria at the end of last week.
Parts of the Mallee, Wimmera and north-east had temperatures in the mid 40 degrees Celsius.
Kerang and Mildura had temperatures of 46 plus degrees Celsius whilst Melbourne hit 44 degrees, its hottest day in 10 years.
Rutherglen was the only record set, having its warmest night time temperature on Thursday, since records commenced.
Fortunately these extreme temperatures have passed for the moment and short-term forecasts do not have any more excessive temperatures, albeit it will continue to be hot across much of the state. There are still two months of summer to come though.
This sustained heat and a lack of any rainfall in January has turned much of Victoria’s pastoral areas into bare paddocks, with only limited dry feed available.
Paddocks across these northern areas of Victoria are now becoming bare. Water is also becoming a concern with dams drying up quickly.
South in Gippsland, pastures are disappearing as the relenting heat and lack of January rainfall is resulting in rapid declines in feed availability.
Buying temporary water is not an economic option. The cost of irrigated water rose above $500/mega litre in the north-east of Victoria last week and above $400/mega litre in the Gippsland MID area. Farmers are not willing to pay such high costs for water.
Those looking towards autumn calving are still holding on and feeding at average rates. Supplementary feed is being bought and mixed with homemade silage and hay.
Farmers in Gippsland and western Victoria are fortunate they have hay stocks this year.
More broadly hay demand remains quiet. Perhaps it is the calm before the storm. Given the high price of buying in water, combined with pasture availability fading fast, hay demand is expected to pick up in the weeks ahead.
Some demand is emerging for straw, it is the cheapest fibre source available in the market at present.
Demand for drought feed and hay is starting to resurface in NSW. WA farmers delivered 3000 tonnes of hay to Cobar in NSW, on Australia day.
The BOM has downgraded its El Nino forecast from ‘Alert’ to ‘Watch’, a 20 per cent reduction in the prospects for an El Nino event occurring. The key reason according to the bureau, is while the Pacific Ocean remains warmer than normal, it has cooled in recent weeks, which has reduced the chances of an El Niño taking hold.