Product Used: Q31 Lucerne Winter Dormant
Q31 lucerne, from the “Hardham” property at Katunga, in northern Victoria, is being used to make premium hay which is then sold to some of the most notable horse racing stables around the country.
The lucerne is grown by Bruce McCracken and Bill Gread and an area of 90 acres, under a pivot, was originally sown on April 1, 2015.
“It’s all Q31 on this block because it is the newest, latest variety out,” Mr McCracken said. “And I don’t want any growth in the winter.”
Q31 is a winter dormant variety which is specifically targeted as a hay option for premium markets.
Mr McCracken said the hay quality from Q31 had been exceptional and feedback from their client base had been very positive.
“The bottom line is they want thin stalks with hay that is green and leafy. The buzz word nowadays is soft hay and that’s what we are getting.”
He said it was important to know your customer.
“It’s about going into a market and knowing what they want and ensuring you can deliver that.”
The first cut occurred on October 20 and hay has been harvested on a shorter roation of 21 to 28 days to maximise quality across the summer.
“We are regularly getting three tonnes per hectare from each cut,” Mr McCracken said. “Every cut, even the first one, has been yielding well. It’s like it’s been in there for two or three years.”
At one stage, in the new year, rain intervened and the cut was delayed with the leaf holding on surprising well in spite of it being a long way past its optimum harvest period.
Mr McCracken said they were aiming at achieving five to six cuts from the lucerne across the summer period and would also provide green chop options to a neighbouring dairy as the stand went into winter.
He said the minimum stand life he would expect from the Q31 lucerne was five years, although with good agronomic management and pivot irrigation, that number could increase.
Paddock preparation and weed control have been critical in achieving the good stand with the area originally deep ripped twice on an angle and the seed then broadcast at a rate of 22 to 25 kilograms per hectare.
The strip had not been utilised for many years prior to planting so a number of herbicides were used prior to and after establishment to ensure a clean crop.
Bill Gread and Bruce McCracken, of katunga, VIC, use Q31 to produce premium hay for the race horse industry.