13 June 1997

Late cut hits northern crop

GRASS supplies are tight on many dairy farms in the north of the country, where heavy crops of first cut silage were taken later than usual.

"These farms are suffering because of late cutting and the heaviness of the crop, which left a white aftermath that is now taking longer than usual to recover," says NZ consultant John Simmonds.

"Producers who have cut late are stocking heavily until silage aftermaths come back into the grazing block, and are having to feed silage to supplement the grazing," he says. Those in the best position cut in early May before the unsettled weather, and are able to include aftermaths in the grazing.

"Farmers with sufficient grass ahead of the cows made sure they set themselves up with a range of pasture lengths a month ago. They cut some for silage, had a grazing block, and an area to cut or graze depending on grass availability.

"Get caught with two lengths of pasture at silage time – at either grazing or cutting height – and you become totally dependent on grass growth." The key issue is flexible acres, he says. "People in trouble now are those with no land to bring into the rotation where supply is tight after first cut."

Producers strip grazing tend to be in a better position, he says. They have a range of grass lengths and can better juggle grazing acreage.