Record keeping advised for growers cutting crops

Author: | Date: 28 Sep 2018

image of hay
Canola crops are among those being cut for hay and silage. Photo: GRDC

Grain growers who this year cut moisture-stressed and frost-affected crops for hay and silage are advised to record their crop management strategies and the outcomes for benchmarking purposes.

Record keeping (notes, photographs and videos) will form an important resource for growers in coming years, should they be required to again cut crops in response to seasonal conditions.

The advice comes from farm consultants, industry organisations and the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) who are supporting growers with their decision making around management of this year’s winter crops.

To this end, the GRDC has just published an updated Hay and Silage Fact Sheet on making the most of a failed winter crop.

GRDC Grower Relations Manager – South, Darren Arney, says the fact sheet, available via the importance of recording all crop measurements, yields, costs, feed quality and livestock outcomes as a future resource.

“Having to cut crops for hay or silage is a decision often made by growers under duress,” Mr Arney says. “By recording the actions taken, the practices applied and the results achieved, growers will be much better placed should they be forced to cut their crops in future years.

“They will have at hand a useful resource which details strategies previously implemented and the impact and results of those decisions. A rule of thumb can be a useful tool when under pressure to make decisions in a timely manner.”

The fact sheet encourages growers to review at a later stage the information they document to determine what additional information could have been sourced to improve the decisions made.

Growers are reminded that market variability and volatility should be factored into any future decision making when referring to benchmarks and returns recorded from previous seasons.

Other key points outlined in the fact sheet include:

  • Hay and silage can be made from failed crops to cover production costs and is sometimes a profitable venture;
  • The quality of canola and cereal hay and silage can vary enormously; quality testing is suggested before feeding to livestock;
  • Before cutting, crop protection product withholding periods must have expired;
  • Hay cut at late flowering and conditioned provides a reasonable balance between yield and feed quality;
  • Markets for hay can be unstable;
  • Hay and silage can be fed to all types of ruminant livestock as long as precautions are taken when introduced to their diet.

The fact sheet points out that salvaging calculators can assist growers with failed crops.

Cost and income calculators such as the one developed by the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries,, can assist when assessing the value of salvaging crops for fodder, grain or grazing. Agriculture Victoria has also produced Grains Calculators which can be accessed via

The GRDC and other industry organisations are reminding growers of the importance of seeking advice to assist with informed decision making.

To support growers and advisers wishing to access tools and resources to assist with decision-making, and for general support, the GRDC has developed a “Dealing With The Dry” web portal which contains links to useful information, available at

Growers and advisers dealing with tough seasonal conditions can also tune in to timely advice to guide crop management decisions, thanks to a short four-part specialist podcast series developed by the GRDC and NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI).

The podcasts feature specialist researchers recorded as part of a joint GRDC NSW DPI Tough Season Questions Answered grower forum held during the recent Henty Machinery Field Days. They are available via

Further information on frost identification and managing frosted crops can be found at and

Contact Details

For Interviews

Darren Arney, GRDC
Phone 0447 877 178


Sharon Watt, GRDC
Phone 0409 675 100