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Push into summer forage a success in South West Victoria

Push into summer forage a success in South West Victoria

2016/17 Season

Owners: Peter Musson
Farm location: Macarthur, VIC
Pioneer® brand hybrids grown: Pioneer® brand Super Sweet Sudan

From providing a good source of fodder for his dairy cows, to improving weed management on his property in south-west Victoria, Peter Musson’s recent push into summer forage can be considered a success.

Located near Macarthur, ‘Musson Dairying’ milks about 800 cows most of the year, with seasonal calving and a heifer-rearing enterprise.

While they’ve grown millet and rape on dryland country, Peter Musson says they’ve never really grown sorghum, however that all changed in the summer of 2016/17. 

Mr Musson chose to grow Pioneer® brand Super Sweet Sudan (SSS) hybrid summer forage on advice from his agronomist.

“Last year under the pivot it was very wet in the winter, we ended up with a lot of pugging and ruts from tractors and water springs started to appear on the sides of the pivot,” he says. 

“When we got to December we were going to do a crop of hay, but decided it was too rushed and instead made a late decision to put SSS in, as a bit of a trial to see how it would work for other years.” 

The Mussons sowed 17 hectares of SSS in late December 2016, following up with three waterings of 13mm before it was cut for silage in late February. 

The productivity of SSS was better than Mr Musson expected, yielding 175 square silage bales, weighing around 750kg each. 

“The SSS always looked very good standing, however it was surprising how many bales we got - a crop like that usually vanishes when you get it into the bale, but there was quite good production out of it,” he says. 

Following the first cut, the Mussons applied 100kg/ha nitrogen to the SSS and gave it one more watering before strip-grazing with 600 cows.

“I was pleased there was no real metabolic disorders with the cows, they took to it very well and cleaned it up even though they were going into crop that was shoulder height,” he says. 

“SSS fitted in quite nicely into our summer production, especially as we calve very quickly in April, so we haven’t got many mouths on the ground, but it’s a good crop to clean out any other weeds you want to get rid of.

“On the whole SSS worked very well in our rotation and also showed good water efficiency, when we did water it, it grew very well - I will plant SSS again, it works very well in our situation.”

 


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