Grass growth rates are exceptional at present. Looking at data from farms that record regularly the average growth rate is over 70kg per day.

This is about 20kg/day more than expected for the time of year. Soil temperatures are running between two and three degrees Celsius higher than normal so this, and abundant soil moisture are driving on growth rates.

While this is good news, the higher than normal growth rates are posing headaches for farmers. Normally, most farmers don’t get surplus grass in late August or early September so don’t have to worry about it, but this year is different.

The fear with taking out paddocks now is that subsequent growth will be poor as recovery takes a lot longer in autumn compared to late spring or summer.

As a consequence, farmers feel they may be short of grass in a few weeks’ time.

However, you should really be making decisions based on what’s happening in your fields. While cutting surplus silage now is not ideal, if it needs to be done then it should be done.

So how do you know if you’re in surplus grass? In summertime, a surplus is easy to identify by looking at the pre-grazing yields. Target pre-grazing yield is calculated by multiplying stocking rate, by rotation length by allowance per cow.

But you should be building up cover in autumn so pre-grazing yield should be rising. Average farm cover should be around 750kg to 1,000kg/ha now, depending on stocking rate. This means that pre-grazing yields should be around 1,600kg to 2,000kg.

If average farm cover is much above this now, you need to ask yourself two questions. Firstly, is growth rate well above demand? Secondly, do you plan to feed supplement in September/October?

If the answer to the first question is yes, then it is likely that average farm cover will increase further in the next week and you will have more surplus.

If the answer to the second question is yes, then you are presented with an opportunity to hang on to the surplus now, with the intention that less supplement will be fed in September and October.

However, this could be a risky strategy on heavy soils because it means grazing higher covers than normal which is rarely a good idea on heavy land.

It might present a good opportunity for those on dry land though. Effectively, you will be deferring grass to a later date and feeding it instead of supplement. But along with wet weather challenges, slower regrowth is another feature of a higher cover.

Most farmers should do a grass walk to calculate their average farm cover, compare it against budget and make a decision then. You can always cut some surplus paddocks and leave others, hedging your bets.