After a hot start to autumn, Victoria’s weather has been more settled this week.
Some light rain fell across parts of Gippsland and the northern ranges, while the western and northern parts of the state remained dry.
Terang and Bairnsdale had the best falls of the week with 9 millimetres.
The outlook for the remainder of March continues to be for mild and settled weather with little if any rain forecast.
Victoria’s farmers are starting to look towards the heavens and hope an early seasonal break arrives.
Feeding of livestock is on the increase. Where home grown fodder and grain is tight, barley and hay trucks are on the road, traversing the state to keep feed up to stock.
Hay demand continues to show signs of emerging from its recent slumber. Supplies vary depending on which part of Victoria you come from. In the north-east, hay supplies are largely depleted as high water costs have discouraged farmers from watering paddocks to grow summer pastures/hay.
Further south, across Gippsland and western Victoria, dairy farmers have been able to utilise their own fodder and summer crops, given last year's good season. Fortuitously, hay supplies are still available, notable cereal and canola hay from the Wimmera and Mallee areas, where the majority of crops were cut for hay.
Hay prices continue to well supported as some trucks are moving north again to NSW and Queensland.
The big unknown for the next few months is how demand will play out for hay in NSW. Anecdotally, demand appears to slowing as many farmers are now starting to send their breeding stock, especially cattle due to this incessant and sustained period of dryness that has gripped southern Queensland and central and northern NSW.
For Victoria’s dairy farmers there have been a number of factors over recent weeks that have allowed a slight increase in the level of optimism to emerge after a long and sustained period of disappointment.
Global milk prices continue to firm. At last week’s global tender world milk powder prices lifted another 3.3 per cent, hitting 12 month highs. Global milk prices are lifting as ongoing dry conditions in NZ have lowered milk production forecasts in Australia.
Our Australian dollar also continues to weaken against the USD, another positive factor which should help support milk prices here over the short to medium term.
Domestic grain prices, notably barley have fallen since harvest time. Barley prices in Victoria are back more than $50 a tonne since December.