Tackling hay in a testing season

Rain impacts hay programs and quality

Cropping
MALLEE: Jacob and Wayne Marshall from Bundy Ag baling vetch hay at Cowangie before recent rains. Photo by Jacob Marshall.

MALLEE: Jacob and Wayne Marshall from Bundy Ag baling vetch hay at Cowangie before recent rains. Photo by Jacob Marshall.

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After a good season northern Mallee hay crops have been impacted by rain and cool temperatures.

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Hay contractors are scrambling to alter planned schedules after recent rains in many parts of the state.

In the state's north west what was an excellent growing season for crops with the potential for above average yields of both grain and hay, has been dampened with the rain.

Contractors Jacob and father Wayne Marshall operate Bundy Ag and have been stalled because of the wet and cool conditions.

Jacob Marshall said the pair had been baling vetch hay at Cowangie northwest Victoria between Ouyen and Pinnaroo, South Australia.

Mr Marshall said the rain had put a halt to operations.

He said the last rain was just eight millimetres at Cowangie, but the following days were overcast and cold, and the hay was not drying.

At Werrimul in the Millewa, where they were moving to at the end of the week had about 25mm.

Mr Marshall said this year had different conditions to 2019 season when the hay was finished by this time.

"We didn't bother following the season down last year and just moved onto baling straw for the Queensland market," he said.

"This year we will move south but probably won't get far because a lot of southern contractors are pulling out of the jobs to head back home and we are picking those jobs up."

He said the crops were generally better than last year, but it was patchy.

"West of Ouyen to Pinnaroo the crops were really good, but the crops east to Manangatang were a little bit light," he said.

Bundy Ag normally bales 4000 to 5000 hectares, but that could double this year, he said.

They normally cover from Swan Hill across to Pinnaroo and into Mildura.

This year they could follow the season as far south as Horsham.

He said the quality of the early hay was "quite good" but some hay had had four lots of rain on it and quality had suffered.

Most of the hay was vetch and cereals, mainly oats (for domestic and export markets) and some frost damaged barley.

He said there had been less frost damaged crop for baling this year.

The use two Massey Ferguson 2270 XD high density balers pressing vetch hay at 700 to 750 kilograms and cereals 620 to 720kg.

Mr Marshall used a drone to take the images of baling a vetch crop.

He said the drones were useful to check the crops before mowing to identify light patches that would not be cut.

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