TURNAROUND IN FODDER FORTUNES
LATE spring rain has helped turn Tasmania’s fodder season around as silage and hay harvesting gets into full swing.
A record dry October and slow pasture growth had many farmers worried about a looming fodder shortage.
However, good recent falls across large parts of the state arrived just in time.
Peter Campbell from the Agricultural Contractors of Tasmania group said condi- tions had improved significantly.
“From what it was looking like back in October, things have improved a lot,” he said.
“Looking at what's coming off around my area, I don’t think it’s going to be a bumper season, but it will be pretty good.”
Farmers are hoping for good fodder production to fill up barns and replace silage supplies, which were running low after a long dry summer last year.
Many producers also donated hay and silage to droughtstricken farmers interstate during winter.
“There wasn’t a lot left sitting around so it’s good to see we should get some reasonable cuts this year,” Mr Campbell said.
The Bureau of Meteorology said Tasmania had its third driest October on record.
The bureau said rainfall was in the lowest 10 per cent of historical totals for the month in western and central Tasmania.
Rainfall in the past few weeks has also boosted soil moisture in many areas but parts of the state’s East and South remain critically dry.
“There could be the potential for second silage cuts in some areas,” Mr Campbell said. “I’m still tipping there’s going to be fair demand for hay though.”
In the state’s far North-West Andrew Wylie and the team from Andurt Silage were this week busy harvesting silage at the state’s largest dairy operation Woolnorth. They have about three weeks to harvest 1800ha of fodder.
“It’s definitely better than it was,” Mr Wylie said.
“As far as grass growth goes in the last few weeks it’s been phenomenal.”
Mr Wylie said the dry conditions during October had seen many pastures go to seed early.
“It’s turned from a disastrous season to a good season, but quality is going to be down,” he said.
Mr Wylie said there was wide variation in how the season panned out in areas around the state.
Mr Wylie anticipated the hay season might be a little later in some areas this year due to recent cool and wet conditions.
“There's mowers going everywhere in some places dropping hay.
“Up here in Circular Head though, I think you can forget about it until January to February,” he said.