Farmers start hay cutting in WA

Shannon VerhagenCountryman
Capel dairy farmer Cameron Lumsden expects to be cutting hay in about three weeks.
Camera IconCapel dairy farmer Cameron Lumsden expects to be cutting hay in about three weeks. Credit: Shannon Verhagen

An unusually early start to hay cutting has kicked off in the Wheatbelt, but it will be at least three weeks before mowers start to whirr in the South West.

Corrigin farmer Braden Grylls — who runs five separate farms about 30km out of town with his family — already has more than a week of hay cutting under his belt after his crops matured two to three weeks ahead of schedule.

About 650ha of Durack has already been cut, an early maturing variety of hay the Grylls family farming enterprise has been growing for the past three seasons.

He anticipated they would be baling in 10 days.

“There’ll be another 200ha of the Durack variety and we’ve got another 1000ha of Yallara to cut, which has already started to hay off,” Mr Grylls said.

He said the 15mm that fell on Bulyee at the weekend would give the remaining crops a boost and “freshen them up” for cutting.

“That rain is going to do a lot for the hay,” Mr Grylls said.

“We thought they weren’t going to push a head out and we nearly had to bite the bullet and cut it. So this will let it mature a bit more.”

Capel dairy farmer Cameron Lumsden is enjoying a bumper crop this year after a “terrible” 2019, but does not anticipate it being ready to cut for another three weeks.

“This year it’s looking very good, above average and much better than last year,” he said.

“Last year it was a struggle the whole year. We still ended up with a good crop, but this year we’re way ahead.

“We should be able to get a second cut of silage if we start early enough ... there’s enough ground moisture to do it.”

The fourth-generation farmer runs a milking herd of 650 south of Capel with five staff, as well as a second property in Rosa Glen south of Margaret River.

With this year’s rain better than the last — receiving 30mm over the weekend — Mr Lumsden has been able to close up more paddocks for silage, planting a mix of ryegrass and clover.

“It’s allowed us to catch up a lot financially because the cows were giving more milk, we didn’t have to use all of our silage we produced last year as we had a normal start,” he said.

“So we’ve got a bank in silage and a bank in grass and the cows are giving more milk — it’s good all round.”

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