Rain is key to successful hay this season

By Rodney Woods

While the 2018-19 hay season was dominated by failed crops being cut early, the result of the 2019-20 season will depend again on rainfall.

That is according to Tim and Michael Gaffy, from Gaffy's Tractor Hire, who provide both contracting and machinery hire for customers.

"I think parts of the Mallee are good, the Wimmera is very good, north-west Victoria is bad — they just haven’t had the rain — and it's patchy locally," Michael said.

"We went to Cobram yesterday (August 28) and there's areas that the crops look brilliant and other areas within 10km you can miss a rain and it makes all the difference to what your end crop is going to be."

Tim said a NSW farmer was going to have cut his wheat for hay because of a lack of rain.

"Going into this season (whether crops are cut early) will depend on different areas having different rainfalls," he said.

"I know I was talking to a bloke up towards Deniliquin, who had a couple thousand acres of wheat that has basically run out of moisture.

"He was going for grain but it will have to be cut for hay now."

Tim said the main equipment they hired out during hay season was tractors with loaders and a big square bale stacker, while on the contracting side of the business, the dual-roller system on the mower conditioner improved dry-time.

"We run Gaffy’s Tractor Hire, so we hire out tractors and a lot of seeding equipment and discs and spreaders and things but in the hay side, we also hire out a 8x4x3 big square bale stacker that stacks them up six high," he said.

"Then on the contracting side we’ve got a self-propelled windrower with a 30ft front  for canola and straw and lighter crops.

"Then we’ve also got a 16ft Massey Razorbar dual-roller conditioning mower."

Michael explained the benefits of the mower.

"The fact it (self-propelled mower) has double rollers on it improves curing of the crop, which means we can get into pressing 48 hours earlier than you would have been," he said.

"And although we’ve had a very dry season, what normally happens you get into the hay season, you're looking over to the west and there’s a rain front coming across  and there will be a huge amount of hay cut but getting it into the bale is always the issue."

"In layman's terms it cuts your dry-time by a couple of days which obviously means you can get it in the bale and in the shed or in a stack quicker," Tim said.