By Tim Kalinowski
Forage crops across the province, and particularly in southern Alberta’s dryland areas, just haven’t been up to snuff this year, and provincial forage beef specialist Karin Lindquist says the best bet for farmers is to hope for a better second cut.
“I wouldn’t say the first cut has been a total write-off as farmers were still able to get some hay off of it, but it was just not satisfactory,” she says. “They weren’t getting enough.”
Lindquist says the effects of drought from 2017, and the early dry conditions this spring have been a definite challenge to some hay varieties.
“The plants are still stressed from last year because of the hot and dry conditions,” she explains. “The plants last year were stressed into dormancy earlier. There were also pretty dry conditions this spring in some areas.
“So with plants trying to emerge, if they didn’t have enough root reserve storage from last year in some cases, there has been reports for winter kill with some of the forage plants out there, making thinner stands than usual.”
Lindquist says good management of the first cut will likely be the key to the success or failure of the second.
That, and timely moisture, of course.
“The fact of the matter is if they (the farmers) can cut while plants are heading out and almost at the flowering stage, that will actually set them back, but they will be forced to re-grow and when moisture comes later in the season the plants will take advantage of that and the farmers should get a better second cut.”
Hay prices have been affected by the poor first cut, states Lindquist, but she does not know if these higher prices will be a trend which continues to the end of the year or not.
“Hay prices have been shown to be going up,” she confirms. “Right now it’s hard to tell where they are going to go by the end of the year.”