The decision of whether to hold onto their crops in the hope of a meager harvest, or to salvage whatever they can from frosted and moisture-stressed crops is weighing heavily on farmers minds.
It is a situation which is becoming all too common, but one in which a compromise must be made; and quickly.
Now is the time for producers to explore how to best maximize opportunities from their winter grain and canola crops, according to NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) scientists.
Speaking during the 2018 Henty Farm Machinery Field Days at the Grains Research and Development Corporation marquee, NSW DPI temperate pasture systems leader, Nigel Phillips advised producers to make the decision early rather than later to get the best value from their crops.
“It is really important that producers have a good decision making process when it comes to deciding whether they should bale and make silage or run through to grain,” he said.
“One of the tools in our drought hub website is a tool that can let you do the economics on that.”
The key consideration for farmers is what option will be the most viable, according to Mr Phillips.
He further advised growers to make their judgments in good time to maximise value rather than be a passenger in the process.
“Make some early decisions and stick with them,” he said.
“The other key point is to keep good records and write everything down about what you did and how you made those decisions.”
Mr Phillips said any recorded information will be valuable during future dry periods as producers will be able to reflect upon the validity of their judgement in comparison with past decisions.
“With hindsight you will be able to say how would I be able to improve next time when these events occur in the future.”
Graze, bale or harvest – that’s the question!
Farmers with winter grain and oilseed crops are facing a dilemma during the current very dry spring and are encouraged to make use of a calculator developed by the NSW DPI in assessing their best value option.
The benefits of the Salvaging crops for fodder, grain or grazing – costs and income calculator was highlighted at the GRDC marquee during the 2018 Henty Farm Machinery Field Days and was designed to assist producers in achieving a timely result in regards to salvaging their crops affected by drought and/or frost conditions.
Just because a crop has been impacted by drought or a frost event it doesn’t mean the crop is worthless: they can still be a valuable source of livestock feed, high in energy and protein.
NSW DPI temperate pasture systems leader, Nigel Phillips said the calculator helps growers to compare various management options such as grazing, baling crops for hay or silage or taking crops through to harvest.
“Growers input data from their own situation to assess costs and returns from each option,” he said.
“By knowing the costs and potential value of each product, growers are then able to make an informed decision on the best option for failing crops.”
It was pointed out to growers the default values in the calculator might not be correct for your situation: the input of incorrect or poor quality information will be of no value and advice should be sought from a preferred agronomist or livestock adviser.
Growers were also advised to check the withholding periods on proposed grazing or conserved crops if they have been treated with pesticides.
If it is intended to make hay or silage from a failed crop, NSW DPI recommends growers have a feed quality test done as that will assist in developing strategies in either developing a livestock feeding program or making the conserved crop available for sale.
- Further information on NSW DPI website – www.dpi.nsw.gov.au