Wet weather in Western Australia's Avon Valley is interrupting prime hay cutting time.
Just a few months ago farmers in that region were desperate for rain, even going as far as selling their sheep due to lack of feed.
But the dry spell was broken and the recent rain is frustrating farmers who are finding it too wet to even get machinery onto paddocks.
“We were doing a bit of silage on the weekend and bogged the cutter so it’s really making us concerned that it’s delaying our time of cutting with the wet weather and the damp soil conditions,” said York farmer Peter Boyle who grows about 1400 hectares of hay for export.
He says with each wet day that goes by without cutting his hay, the quality and value drops off.
“I would like to know what ramifications that will have with what our buyers will do when they go to purchase our hay when we do eventually cut it and whether they’ll even want it.”
“The season got pushed with that dry spell so it’s bought the hay cutting forward. The oats have matured about a fortnight earlier than normal.”
Mr Boyle is considering letting his crop go and harvesting the oats but he’s concerned the extra oats from his property and others will flood the market.
A spokesperson from the state’s main grain handler CBH says it's too early to make a call on whether the poor hay cutting conditions will have any market implications to oats.
“It’s difficult to gauge any sort of impact until there is a better indication of who might be harvesting oats and possible volumes.”
Munro Patchett is the General Manager of Gilmac Mackie Hay, the largest hay exporter in Australia.
He says the decision on when to cut hay is up to the individual farmer.
“We’ve got crop inspectors out talking to our farmers at the moment, inspecting paddocks.
“Around the York area there’s been quite a lot of rainfall and we need to talk to each farmer one on one about the best way to handle it.”
Mr Patchett says Gilmac is unlikely to be more lenient on sugar levels and quality of hay.
“It’s probably not something we’d like to do.
“People have an option to sell us the middle and low grades.”
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