The winter crop sowing period is upon us and for those that haven’t already sown your crops here are a few tips to get you started and to help you make good quality hay. (For more tips, hints and helpful information CLICK HERE)
- Seedbed preparation – Ensure that your paddock is free from large contaminants such as rocks, large dirt clods, wire and bones as these can decrease the quality of your hay if they are baled. Last years stubble also needs to be removed or cultivated as if it is left there you it causes the need to have an elevated cutting height and leads to raking issues. It is also a good idea to roll your paddock after seeding to minimise any farrows and so that you are able to cut your crop on a different angle to planting (ideally aim to cut at 90 degrees to sowing). A balance of nutrients is essential for profitable yields. Fertiliser is commonly needed to add essential nutrients to the soil such as phosphorus and nitrogen. Consider adding a fertilizer at maintenance rate to ensure that your plants get the nutrients they require for good establishment.
- Variety selection – It’s important to match your sowing variety to suit your soil type, rainfall zone and sowing date.
- Sowing date – Find out what the optimum sowing period is for your variety as this can help your crop produce their highest yields. It’s important to realise that the best sowing date varies with location and variety.
- Seeding rate – Aim to sow seed at a consistent depth, either at depth where the moisture is or shallow if dry sowing. Sowing at a higher rate will establish a denser crop which can help reduce stem thickness and weed competition.
- Row spacing – Tighter row spacing can reduce weed competition and stem thickness. It will also provide a greater base to support the windrow when you cut the crop for hay.
- Weed control – Controlling your weed growth prior to sowing will take the pressure off your crop while it is getting established. Weeds in your hay at cutting time can impact on visual appearance, yield and feed test results so it is a good idea to control them during the season.