Stormy weather holds up hay

Good yield: Tamworth Ivan Mann said Peel Valley irrigators had a full water allocation this year and that despite a few issues with storms, lucerne hay has been high yielding.
Good yield: Tamworth Ivan Mann said Peel Valley irrigators had a full water allocation this year and that despite a few issues with storms, lucerne hay has been high yielding.

Cool weather and frequent storms made hard work for hay producers around Tamworth earlier in the season.

But full irrigation allocations and hot weather have improved hay making conditions.

"The storms we were getting a month ago made it difficult to make good quality hay," according to Ivan Mann, "Down Park" on the Dungowan-Duri Road.

Mr Mann, his wife Rosanne and son Matthew run a mixed cattle, cropping and hay making property with two centre pivots, which cover 32ha and 36ha respectively, to irrigate lucerne.

"The hay is yielding quite well and it's been good if you can get it made without any storm damage, which will downgrade the quality a bit," he said. If the hay was wet after being cut - depending on how much rain fell on it - it can cause bleaching and downgrading of the quality.

Demand has been steady, but could increase if dry conditions continue. Mr Mann said there was a lot of cheaper quality cereal hay as well as baled crop stubble around at the moment.

"There's been a steady flow of sales - with demand similar to past years," he said.

Most of his top quality lucerne hay, made in small bales, supplies the horse industry while he grows wheaten hay that's sold to a chaff mill. "We have 100 per cent water allocation this year so everyone in the Peel Valley has plenty of water compared with previous years," Mr Mann said.

Prices were steady with lucerne making $10-$12 per bale and large 3x3x8 bales of wheaten hay about $260/t.

"Our first cut of lucerne and our last cut we make into silage for the cattle," he said.

As well as producing hay, the Manns grow barley and run 200 breeders and trade an additional 200 or 300 head that are grain assisted for 60 to 80 days to supply Woolworths' MSA grid.