What an end to summer in Victoria and the beginning of autumn!
Temperatures soared into the high 30s for much of Victoria at the end of last week and over the weekend. Bushfires developed across parts of west and south Gippsland, with a loss of properties, forests and grazing land.
The BOM is yet to publish its official summer data, but they are confident summer temperature records have been broken across Victoria; every year new records appear to be broken. Rainfall totals were also well below the January/February averages.
Summer pastures have all but disappeared with this heat event. Dust storms are a common occurrence across the Mallee and Wimmera given how bare the paddocks are.
Summer forage crops have all but been consumed.
Many farmers across the state are utilising their own fodder stocks or facing the decision of when to commence buying in additional fodder and supplementary feed until rain arrives.
In central NSW farmers are already starting to make some tough decisions. Last year they bought supplementary feed and fodder in. Cash flow positions have been stretched to the limit and this year it appears farmers are making early calls to destock part of the herds/flocks.
The BOM's three month update for March-May is not providing a high degree of confidence for an early break to the extended dry period.
Not only is the Bureau forecasting March rainfall to be below average, it is also suggesting the March-May period is likely to be drier than average across most of Victoria.
The recent heat and lack of rain across Victoria, coupled with this updated autumn forecast appears to have encouraged farmers to think about their near to medium term fodder requirements.
It is noticeable that hay demand and movements have started to pick up over the past week or two.
In the short term the availability of cereal and canola hay has proved to be a bonus for Victoria’s livestock sector. The availability of this additional hay, including the canola hay has kept prices largely in check.
However, many forecasters are again predicting tightening supplies of hay in the back half of 2019. This appears to have initiated some Victorian farmers thinking about their hay needs for later in the year.
The big dry in NSW and Queensland continues unabated and it is evident that interstate movements of fodder and hay are starting to increase again.