HAY v’s GRAIN – WHERE TO GET THE BEST RETURN
As the growing season comes to an end, many of you have a decision to make; cut your crop for hay or harvest for grain. After a challenging year of below average rainfall, countless frost events, hot dry winds and now a lack of residual stored moisture, many crops are beginning to hay off and potentially may not reach economic grain fill.
With hay prices at an all-time high, if sufficient biomass exists, cutting a crop for hay may provide a profitable risk management option, especially given the uncertain rainfall for the final weeks of the growing season.
With a lot of risk and uncertainty in cutting for hay, here are some simple calculations you can use to estimate your hay yield potential.
CALCULATING HAY YIELDS:
- Cut 1m2 of the crop at the exact height you will cut the hay (it is critical the sample cut is exactly where you will cut the whole paddock!)
- Weigh this fresh material to get kg/m2 fresh weight
- Multiply this figure by 10 to convert to t/ha fresh weight
- To account for moisture and baling losses assume 20-30% of the fresh weight will make it into the bale
- For a more accurate average calculation, repeat at five locations across the paddock
5 x 1m2 cuts from a wheat paddock weighed an average of 1.5kg/m2 fresh weight
1.5 x 10 = 15t/ha of fresh material
15 x 25% = 3.75t/ha (estimated hay yield)
When considering making hay ensure you have budgeted on all relevant costs which could be up to $150 per ha. It’s important when making hay you have a thorough plan in place. Consider your operations, logistics, storage, and marketing capabilities before you make the call to cut.
For a more detailed formula to work out your hay v’s grain results, try this calculator: http://agriculture.vic.gov.au/agriculture/grains-and-other-crops/grains-calculators/hay-vs-grain-calculator
For a more detailed formula to determine your estimated dry matter, try this calculator: http://agriculture.vic.gov.au/agriculture/grains-and-other-crops/grains-calculators/dry-matter-calculator