Silage season gets a chill

COLD and wet conditions have slowed pasture growth across Tasmania but as silage season kicks off many farmers are hoping for bumper crops.

Contractors say many pastures need some more sunshine and warmth to increase production.

Recent wet weather means some paddocks are still too wet to harvest and farmers face a waiting game with more rain forecast in coming days.

Contractors took advantage of this week’s break in the weather and many were busy harvesting across the state.

Agricultural Contractors of Tasmania chairman Peter Campbell said in his area grass crops looked quite light due unseasonable conditions.

“We really need some sunshine and probably another rain soon even though it probably sounds crazy to be saying that after how wet it’s been,” he said.

“It could get going pretty quickly with the right weather, but I think it’s definitely going to be a late season especially for hay.

We normally start cutting hay at the end of November but most of the hay paddocks aren’t anywhere near long enough yet.”

Ledgerwood-based contractor Mark McDougal also said the season was off to a slow start there.

“The crops look all right until you get in to them but there’s just no bulk. It’s just been too wet and too cold,” he said.

The wet was also causing issues with silage making.

“One paddock we did the other day we raked up more mud than grass so obviously you can’t bale when it’s like that,” he said.

Unless the weather turns around quickly, he is anticipating there could be a shortage of fodder this year.

“Normally we just drop hay paddocks out as they get too far in front of the cattle, but at the moment the cattle are eating it all,” he said.

“By now we would usually have done quite a bit of silage, but we haven’t done much at all.”

Circular Head-based contractor Marcus Laing said the wet conditions had held up the start of the season, which got underway for his business last week.

“It’s been an absolute pain,” he said.

Mr Laing said after a very dry spring and summer last year, farmers in the North-West were hoping for a bumper season this year.

“If we can get some more warm weather and some regular rains it can turn around pretty quickly,” he said.

“That’s what everyone’s hoping for anyway.”