Alta. crops slow developing, more eyed as forage

(Resource News International) — Slow crop development across much of Alberta could result in many grain and oilseed fields going to forage instead of being harvested, according to a provincial crop specialist.

Most of Alberta benefited from at least an inch of rain over the past week, said Harry Brook, a crops specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development’s Ag-Info Centre at Stettler.

However, temperatures have been cool and the crops are developing slowly, he added, noting that overnight temperatures have been in the single digits in many cases.

While the rains were beneficial, they also led to a lot of second growth in fields where dryness had hampered germination, said Brook.

The newly emerging plants will be too late to reach maturity, while the first growth is thin in many cases, he said, noting that the inconsistent fields will make harvesting difficult.

The question now is whether it will be worthwhile to let the fields mature and attempt to get a crop, or let them go to greenfeed, or use them for grazing cattle, he said.

There are occasional crops that are looking okay, especially in the south, “but it’s the exception rather then the rule,” Brook said.

“I don’t think we’ll see a whole lot of harvesting going on with a combine this year,” he said.

However, he added, livestock producers may be able to find some benefit from the increased feed supplies.

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