Farmers considering whether they should harvest their grain crops or cut them for hay this season now have a new tool from Agriculture Victoria to support their decision.
‘Cutting failed crops for hay or silage’ is a new fact sheet featuring a checklist for growers to help them make an informed choice about their crops.
The fact sheet complements the ‘hay versus grain calculator’ and ‘dry matter calculator’ on the Agriculture Victoria website.
Agriculture Victoria Regional Manager, Robert O’Shannessy, said the key consideration for growers is the cost-benefit of cutting a crop or letting it go through to harvest.
“The calculators help growers estimate hay yields and work out their returns after expenses from hay, compared with expected returns from harvesting the grain,” he said.
“The complementary fact sheet highlights the factors to consider when estimating potential grains yields, including the available subsoil moisture levels and the weather forecast.
“Crop growth stage is critical as it has a major effect on both hay yield and quality.”
For growers with their own livestock, grazing is an option. Growers should be careful to maintain sufficient ground cover to minimise the risk of soil erosion.
Mr O’Shannessy said growers should research markets and end-users and remember that they may be required to supply vendor declarations when selling hay.
“It’s crucial that growers cutting crops for hay check chemical labels to ensure they comply with the withholding periods of chemicals used on the crop,” he said.
The fact sheet also provides hints for growers in engaging contractors for hay making and links to other useful resources.