Prairie forage supplies replenished

A good year has allowed Prairie producers to replenish forage supplies.

“For the most part, yields were average to above average,” said Daphne Cruise, regional crops specialist for Saskatchewan Agriculture. “It looks like we’re still fairly average in terms of quality.”Alfalfa and alfalfa/brome hay, which make up the majority of forage crops in Saskatchewan, averaged 1.7 tonnes per acre — far above the 10-year average of 1.2 tonnes per acre, she said.

The big crop was desperately needed.

“A lot of producers, by the time it came to putting cattle on pastures this past spring, had quite decreased stocks, and in some cases, depleted stocks,” said Cruise.

“I think going into the winter, it sounds like everybody has enough hay, but I don’t think there’s a lot of surplus out there.”
Manitoba is also reporting adequate to above-average feed supplies, according to Manitoba Agriculture, Food, and Rural Initiatives.

In the Interlake, yields for alfalfa were 1.75 tonnes per acre for the first cut, 0.66 tonnes per acre for the second cut, and 0.25 tonnes for the third and final cut. Alfalfa/grass and tame hay yielded 1.5 tonnes per acre on the first cut and 0.66 tonnes per acre on the second cut. Native hay was one tonne per acre for the only cut and greenfeed was two tonnes per acre for its only cut.

It’s the same story in Alberta, said Ken Ziegler, forage specialist with Alberta Agriculture.
“Overall, we’ve had good yields and no hungry pockets throughout the province,” he said. “Many years there would be districts that have timely rains and good yields, while another district a few hours away would have missed the rains and their yields would be less than what would be considered acceptable. We didn’t experience that here this year.”

Most producers in Alberta saw two or three cuts, leading to strong supplies for producers heading into winter, he said.
“This would certainly take care of any carry-over deficiencies,” he said. “I think we’re in a good position. Another factor playing in is the cost of grain. Grain is plentiful and cheap this year, so that’s certainly going to be an alternative for livestock producers to top up as need arises.”

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