Warm, sunny and dry weather was again the feature of Victoria's weather last week.
The BOM has updated its three month outlook for April-June and it is not for the faint-hearted with the Bureau continuing to suggest below average rainfall and above average temperatures to prevail over central and northern parts of Victoria.
Warmer than average days and nights are likely for northern NSW and southern Queensland for April to June. For daytime temperatures, the chances of being warmer than the median are greater than 80 per cent, for northern and eastern Australia.
This forecast is not great news for Wimmera and Mallee farmers who are all hoping for an early autumn break. Having said that Anzac Day is often cited as the critical day for the autumn break to arrive in Victoria, so there is still time.
The sustained and extended dry summer has all but exhausted paddock feed and summer pastures. Some summer crops are holding on and maize crops should begin to be harvested over the next few weeks.
Hay demand is on the rise. Across western Victoria and through the Wimmera large amounts of cereal hay is still visible on many farms. Having said that, buyers have stepped back in to the market and are buying wheat and barley hay from the Wimmera and Mallee regions. Canola hay demand is also evident with prices firming. Trucks are not only moving around Victoria, to the north-east and Gippsland but ongoing demand from western NSW and Queensland is seeing hay continue to move north.
Until recently, hay prices had remained stable since the end of harvest; this is in sharp contrast to wheat and barley values which had fallen sharply.
Cereal hay prices have lifted back above $300/tonne FOT ex the Wimmera/Mallee region while canola hay is selling in the region of $270-300/tonne FOT.
As autumn arrives and morning temperatures start to fall, demand for fibre will continue to increase. Farmers are hoping for some rainfall to enable pastures to grow before the really cold weather arrives.
Farmers have commenced readying paddocks for winter forage crops to provide another feed source in the winter months.
As we commented last week there are some green shoots emerging signalling some more positive outcomes for the dairy sector. Rabobank suggests the global milk outlook is becoming more positive as global demand exceeds supply. New Zealand's exportable surplus is shrinking. The challenge for Australian milk processors is the declining milk pool as dairy farmers exit the industry given their cash flow pressures.