July is here, that means the shortest day has been and gone and summer is coming. Wonder if it’s going to get dry?? Well, at this stage, I kind of hope it does!! Hmmm, maybe I shouldn’t say that sort of thing, but it’s funny how when things are wet, we think “a drought is always better”, and when we’re in a drought we think “anything is better than this”. Or maybe it’s just me??
We’re pretty fortunate I think that after such a wet summer/autumn period, June has been reasonably kind. Growth over June was better than May which is quite unusual. In saying that, the last few summers have been dry to very dry and so I guess May growth in those years was a reflection of low growth during the dry period. Not so when it continues to grow relentlessly as it did this summer. Our big challenge was pastures opening up and becoming clover and weed bound. This happened quite late in the autumn, although it may have been evident earlier but the solid growth may have hidden the problem. Black beetle and grass grub look to be the obvious culprits once again.
We did a reasonable amount of undersowing, primarily with Shogun, on the worst affected areas. The results have been good, but the challenge in managing these pastures in winter is real…trying to let the new shoots get past the pulling out stage whilst not letting the existing pasture shade them out too much, and all the time trying to maintain a long rotation and only grazing the undersown paddocks lightly!!
Sam has been getting on with the winter pasture spraying on some paddocks also and this has highlighted the amount of weeds, particularly creeping yellow cress, that have now died and left some quite open pastures. As we get further into July we will monitor soil temps and commence applications of urea or ammo to try and thicken up the sward and encourage new tillers.
We were fortunate to have the heifers off the farm until mid-June, and also have a few cows off as is the norm. This reduced stocking rate has helped get the round out and enabled us to lift covers to a reasonable level, utilising copious amounts of maize in the process. Thank goodness for a feedpad is all I can say. I would struggle to feed anything on the paddocks in these soft soil conditions. We will start feeding PKE to the dry cows as well to try and help slow down the rate of maize usage. We haven’t fed PKE to drys before but anything to keep the round out and encourage grass to grow is a safe bet this season.
Sam has been busy on a bit of catch-up maintenance around the place. It sure is the time to do it and with a bit more money coming in it’s prudent to spend money where it’s most needed. The races are finally getting shaped and rubble applied, a job that has been deferred for the past couple of years. Hopefully this will help in the battle against lameness.
What a great season for sport, the auld mug is coming home and the Lions tour is a beauty as far as I’m concerned. The hordes of Lions supporters boosting the economy are a sight to behold, with such a sea of red at each Lions game making each game a real spectacle. There is always plenty of action off the farm in so many ways, I think it’s prudent to get to a rugby game, or have a few days away with the family. I’m looking forward to longer days and milk in the vat, enabling us to lift our profits once again with the likelihood of a higher payout for a year or two…or three or four hopefully!
I made the mistake of hopping on a few new tractors at the fieldays, which got Sam quite excited. I had to calm him down with a Good George in the hospitality tent before generously buying him a new set of wet weather gear and headlamp for those early mornings. I could tell by the look on his face that he was overcome with my generosity and would be doubling his efforts to have no dead cows this season, remain grade free, lift production and lower our farm working costs!! Watch this space!!