Prairie forage crops perk up with precipitation

(Photo courtesy Canada Beef Inc.)

CNS Canada — It’s been a slow start for forage crops growing across the Prairies, but the much-needed precipitation is better late than never.

“The rain has been a huge help,” said Karin Lindquist, forage specialist with Alberta’s Ag-Info Centre in Stettler. “There are still some areas that could use a bit more, but so far so good. Knock on wood.”

Although the rain has helped Alberta crops, grasses are shorter than previous years, she said, and have grown only six inches tall instead of the usual 10 inches by this time of year.

“That’s not going to be good for a first-take crop, but if the producers clip a little earlier it will certainly help get in a second, better crop,” Lindquist said.

Saskatchewan forage crops also had a rough start to the season.

“A lot of the springtime growth wasn’t there, crops and pastures were fairly short and starting to burn off… especially in lighter soils where there wasn’t a lot of moisture retention,” said Daphne Cruise, cropping management specialist with Saskatchewan Agriculture in Moose Jaw.

Despite shorter growth, Cruise remains optimistic.

“There is still plenty of time to get the crops going and pull off a fairly decent crop. If we keep getting the rains we’ve been getting, that will definitely help,” she said.

In 2015, the southwest and west-central areas of Saskatchewan were incredibly dry, she said, but this year these areas are getting the most moisture in the province.

“It’s a relief for the guys in those regions, I think. They had a lot to deal with — a lack of forage growth and forage production last year, both in hay crops and in pastures.”

Forage crops across Manitoba are also progressing well after the recent rainfall, according to the latest crop report from Manitoba Agriculture.

Cattle are being hauled to pasture in northwestern Manitoba and the Interlake, where forage crops are being rated in good to excellent condition.

Other areas of the province are showing quick growth and adequate livestock water supplies.

Erin DeBooy writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting. Follow her at @erindebooy on Twitter.


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