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Feed Watch: September 16, 2019

Adverse weather has taken its toll on Canada’s cow herd, knocking down the numbers in the national herd yet again.

There were 10.36 million head in Canada as of July 1, according to Statistics Canada’s latest survey. That’s down from last year, and 30 per cent below the peak of 2005. And as Alexis Kienlen reports in Alberta Farmer Express, market analysts say the weather is behind recent reductions.

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Alberta 

Dry conditions in the south and wet conditions everywhere else have limited the second cut and some producers are still finishing the first cut, notes the latest crop report. Producers with second cut have finished 14 per cent of the second cut on dryland and 67 per cent of irrigated second cut.

Average dryland hay yield is pegged at 1.5 tons per acre, with quality rated at 53 per cent fair and 47 per cent good. Average irrigated hay yield is estimated at 1.8 tons per acre, with 22 per cent of hay reported as poor to fair, 50 per cent good and 28 per cent excellent.

In the south, most crops are grading better than the five-year average. About 45 per cent of the crop is still standing, 43 per cent has been combined, and the balance swathed. Seventy-eight per cent of the second cut is done on irrigated hayland, with most rated as good to excellent, and yield reported at 1.8 tons per acre average. There’s no second cut on dryland. Twenty-four per cent of pasture is rated as poor, 40 per cent fair, and the balance good to excellent.

In central Alberta, 83 per cent of the crop is still standing. So far most crops are beating the five-year average for quality. Second cut hay is 32 per cent complete, with yield averaging 1.8 tons per acre. 49 per cent of hay rates as fair quality, with the balance rated good. Twenty-three per cent of pastures rate as poor growth, 41 per cent fair and 36 per cent good.

Eighty-three per cent of crops are still standing in the northeast. Farmers are concerned about dry pea quality, with some seeing molding, rotting and small peas. Nearly half the dry peas are in the bin, and 46 per cent are grading as number two, 29 per cent as number three and 25 per cent as feed.

In the northwest, 92 per cent of crops are standing. So far crop quality is below the five-year average. Some fields still have first cut hay to be completed. Pasture growth is rated as 17 per cent fair, 63 per cent good and 20 per cent excellent.

Eighty-eight per cent of crops are still standing in the Peace. So far quality is above the five-year average, except for the peas. Six per cent of pastures are rated poor, 39 per cent fair, 46 per cent good and nine per cent excellent.

Saskatchewan

Province-wide, only 18 per cent of the crop is now in the bin, which is well behind the five-year average, notes the latest crop report.

So far, farmers have harvested 83 per cent of the fall rye, 79 per cent of the winter wheat, 66 per cent of the field peas, 63 per cent of the lentils, 28 per cent of the barley, 10 per cent of the durum, seven per cent of the spring wheat and four per cent of the canola.

Hay land and pasture topsoil moisture is rated as three per cent surplus, 84 per cent adequate, 11 per cent short and two per cent very short.

Producers in many regions are reporting sprouting, staining and bleaching because of the excess moisture. All regions need a stretch of warm, dry weather for harvest.

In the southeast, hayland and pasture topsoil moisture conditions are rated as three per cent surplus, 90 per cent adequate and seven per cent short. Farmers have harvested 24 per cent of the crop, and another 28 per cent is swathed or ready to straight-cut.

In the southwest, hayland and pasture topsoil moisture conditions are rated as 89 per cent adequate, 10 per cent short and one per cent very short. Producers have combined 31 per cent of the crop, and another 16 per cent of the crop is now swathed or ready to straight-cut.

Hayland and pasture topsoil moisture in east-central Saskatchewan is rated as eight per cent surplus, 85 per cent adequate, six per cent short and one per cent very short. Eight per cent of the crop is in the bin, and an additional 14 per cent of the crop is swathed or ready to straight-cut.

West-central Saskatchewan’s hayland and pasture topsoil moisture is rated as 59 per cent adequate, 36 per cent short and five per cent very short. Producers have combined 18 per cent of the crop, and another 27 per cent of the crop is swathed or ready to straight-cut.

In northeastern Sask., hayland and pasture topsoil moisture is rated as 15 per cent surplus, 83 per cent adequate and two per cent short. Eight per cent of the crop is in the bin and another 28 per cent of the crop is swathed or ready to straight-cut.

Northwestern Saskatchewan’s hayland and pasture topsoil moisture is rated as 77 per cent adequate, 12 per cent short and 11 per cent very short. High humidity is slowing crop maturity while some fields are too wet to continue haying. The area needs several weeks of warm, dry weather to drive crop maturity and to enable harvest. Farmers have combined seven per cent of the crop, and another 33 per cent of the crop is swathed or ready to straight-cut.

Manitoba 

Rain has slowed harvest in Manitoba, and farmers have 40 per cent of the crop in the bin, which is behind the five-year average of 56 per cent, notes the latest Manitoba crop report.

Pastures have perked up a bit in the southwest, but recent rains have come too late for significant forage regrowth. Haying is done, with some greenfeed left, and corn silaging not yet started. Livestock are generally still on pasture, and some are being supplemented. Oats and barley are coming off the field tough. Farmers are reporting sprouting in barley and wheat.

In the northwest, farmers have 30 per cent of the crop combined. Wet weather has caused sprouting in spring wheat. Many producers have been supplementing cattle on pastures. The second cut was disappointing, and an extreme feed shortage means many producers are thinking about reducing herd sizes. Corn silage harvest is several weeks away. Rain has not only slowed annual crop harvest, but also baling of greenfeed and straw.

Rain has improved soil moisture conditions in central Manitoba. Those rains may benefit soybeans and corn. The rain has also greened up pastures and second-cut hay fields, which will provide fall grazing. Producers have been baling straw from cereals, plus canola and peas, for winter feed. Crops intended for grain are being silaged or baled.

In the east, about 55 per cent of the crop was in the bin. Recent rain will help with seed filling in soybeans and corn. Some producers will be trying to get one last cut of alfalfa. Beef producers are supplementing cattle on pasture, and 70 per cent of pastures are rated as poor or very poor condition.

The Interlake saw variable rainfall recently. Producers welcome precipitation for pasture and hay regrowth, as well as late-maturing corn, corn silage and soybeans. But it’s come too late for this year’s hay crop, greenfeed and most annual crops. Soybeans and corn are ripening prematurely due to drought. Harvest is about 60 per cent complete. Yields vary, but much of the crop is coming in at an average yield. Early greenfeed has been harvested, and will yield better than later-seeded greenfeed. Some crops seeded for grain will go to livestock feed.

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