Lucerne season

THE final cut of lucerne for the season is now safely stored away with farmers grateful that the quality is reasonable despite a difficult season.

Richard Johnson of Esk Farm, Longford, finished his baling last week, not quite managing the optimum window of five to seven days from cutting to baling due to periodic showers sweeping through.

“If you can get it in within five days it makes cracking hay, but any longer than that and it starts to lose colour and leaf which the buyers are looking for,” he said.

“The first cut back at the end of November was silage sold to a dairy farm who had contractors come in and cut, rake and cart it away.

“This is the third and final cut of hay which goes into small square bales mainly for the racing industry and other horse owners and alpaca owners.

“The shed is divided into quality so the lesser quality lucerne will be put away for sheep and cattle hobby farmers.”

Mr Johnson will now get one more

grazing on the stubble which will be used to fatten and finish 1000 crossbred lambs. He said the lucerne made good use of his smaller paddocks and he could handle

the baling by himself.
He uses a mower conditioner crimping

the stems to hasten drying time before the baler and buggy produces neat bundles of 15 small bakes to be picked up by the front end loader grab and carted off to the shed.

As well as lucerne, Esk Farm also grows grass feed, chickory, wheat, peas, clover and rapeseed.

“We usually have about 20ha in lucerne but it was only 10ha this season due to trouble with plaintain (dandelion) and clover,” Mr Johnson said.

With his family well known in polocrosse circles and plenty of ponies in the paddock, he said they’ll be lucky to see any of the good stuff.

“I might have to see what I can rustle up from around the edges,” he laughed.