AFTER a strong start to the season in the northern Mallee, some crops have kicked away so much it has created a very unique opportunity for the Fogden family - cutting for silage for the first time.
At Nangari, east of Loxton, the Fogden family decided to put rye in for the first time, to cover their barest sandy hills, but also to make the most of a good rain in February of 65 millimetres.
They started sowing 80 hectares on Good Friday (April 10).
"Then because of good subsoil moisture, it just took off," Peter Fogden said.
"By last week, it was out in head and just about to flower."
Mr Fogden said they had never been faced with this issue so early in the season.
"We couldn't cut it for hay as it's too early, you would never get it cured right at this time of year," he said.
"We couldn't let it grow out for hay as rye gets a bit stemmy, too thick like straw.
"We were also concerned it would start getting frosted and lose its nutritional value, plus we haven't had rain for the past six to seven weeks and it was starting to dry off.
"My son Thomas had been suggesting cutting crops for silage for a while, after seeing producers in the South East feed silage to their bulls, so this was our only option to utilise this crop while it was nice and fresh."
Cutting crops for silage is not a common sight in the area, not since dairying left the region.
The Fogdens cut about 30ha for silage, with the rest left for seed.
They hired a mower conditioner from local baling contractor Mark Braun, while Mark Llewellyn brought his silage wrapper up from Keith.
"Mark said he doesn't normally start silage in the South East until the end of August - he's never wrapped this early in his 20 years of doing it," Mr Fogden said.
The rye was cut on Monday and wrapped by Saturday, with 170 bales produced. Some weighed up to 600 kilograms.
Mr Fogden said they planned to use the silage in summer for their weaners.
"We have plenty of feed at the moment, so we don't need it for awhile," he said.
It is something we will now consider doing every year, depending on the season.
"But it is something we will now consider doing every year, depending on the season."
They also have a 20ha trial of Moby forage barley in, which Mr Fogden said was also thriving.
"We have had 30 young heifers on it the past eight weeks and they can barely keep up with it," he said.
"It helps that we have had more rain this year (200mm), than the past two years combined (70mm for 2019 and 100mm in 2018).
"The crops are looking really good, but they haven't had much rain the past six to seven weeks.
"Most of my hay crops are really starting to suffer with no moisture on them, but they're also not mature enough to cut for silage.
"Plus we don't want to turn good oaten hay into silage.
"We also had Russian wheat aphid, other aphids and cutworm wreaking havoc.
"I have sprayed some paddocks four times this year since seeding.
"We are really hoping the forecasted rain comes early next month."
- Start the day with all the big news in agriculture. Sign up here to receive our daily Stock Journal newsletter.