It has been another week of largely settled weather across Victoria.
Some rain did fall across Gippsland and the north-eastern areas of Victoria. Southern Gippsland recorded falls of 25-40 millimetres, while Terang had 18 millimetres.
In some parts, notably Gippsland and western Victoria, a green tinge has emerged with recent rains. Further rain will be needed to generate ongoing pasture growth.
For the balance of summer and early autumn, clear, sunny days are often the norm for much of Victoria and given the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) is not forecasting any significant rainfall, farmers may have to wait a little longer for significant pasture growth.
BOM updated its March to May outlook and its rainfall forecast for Victoria shows no strong tendency for a wetter or drier than average autumn. It is also likely to be warmer than normal.
Hay demand appears to be surfacing. Despite signs of a green tinge, many paddocks have all but exhausted their pastures and dams are running dry.
Home grown pastures are going to be a critical requirement for Victoria’s livestock and dairy farmers over the next 12 months. Some dairy farmers have or are already in the process of exiting the industry or scaling back.
Many dairy farmers are struggling to see how they can keep going with the high costs of grain, water and hay. BOM’s update suggests they will have to continue walking a tight rope for a number of months yet.
While dairy processors have increased milk prices over recent weeks, it is only buying an additional few weeks of cash flow for many farmers.
There continues to be a push for supermarkets to put a 10 cent/litre premium on milk sales to support the industry over the next 12 months. They will need to come to the party to stop the slow but gradual exodus of farmers from the industry.
High cost of supplementary feed can only be absorbed for so long. A timely autumn break is going to be vital.
Cereal and canola hay continues to be offered. Farmers are either selling directly to other farmers or offering their hay on various digital platforms uniting buyers and sellers.
Cereal prices, wheat and barley have been falling since the end of harvest. Plentiful supplies from South Australia are finding their way into Victoria. For the moment these lower cereal prices have not yet flowed through to lower hay prices.
When temperatures start to cool, this will be the time when Victorian hay movement increases.