A dry spring has robbed many Prairie producers of first cut hay yields and lowered carrying capacity on pastures. Still, rain improved pasture conditions in many areas and some producers are cutting poor hay fields to encourage regrowth for a second cut.
Overall hay growth and pasture looks better in Alberta than Saskatchewan and Manitoba. While Ontario has had abundant moisture, hay yields are below average.
Provincially, pasture growth was rated as 17 per cent poor, 31 per cent fair, 48 per cent good and four per cent excellent, notes the latest crop report. Eleven per cent of tame hay acres were rated as poor growth, 30 per cent fair, 55 percent good and four per cent excellent. Dryland first cut was underway, with the south ahead of the rest of the province. Thirteen per cent of the hay was rated as poor quality, 20 per cent fair, 57 per cent good and 10 per cent excellent.
In the south, first cut dryland hay was 27 per cent complete, and 32 per cent of irrigated hay acres were finished. Dryland hay quality rated 14 per cent poor, 40 per cent fair, 36 per cent good and 10 per cent excellent. Four per cent of irrigated hay was rated poor, 16 per cent fair, 64 per cent good and 16 per cent excellent. Fourteen per cent of tame hay acres were rated poor for growth, 30 per cent fair, 52 per cent good and four per cent excellent. Pasture growth was rated as 23 per cent poor, 33 per cent fair, 40 per cent good and four per cent excellent.
Hay crops looked strong in central Alberta. The first cut had just started. Rain had delayed cutting and warmer weather was needed to dry the hay. Tame hay growth was 21 per cent poor, 19 per cent fair, 59 per cent good and one per cent excellent. So far quality ratings were 21 per cent poor, five per cent fair, and 74 per cent good. Twenty-four per cent of acres were rated poor for pasture growth, 24 per cent fair, 50 per cent good and two per cent excellent.
The first cut had just started in the northeast as well. Tame hay growth was rated 10 per cent poor, 48 per cent fair, 39 per cent good and three per cent excellent. Quality was estimated to be 50 per cent good and 50 per cent excellent. Pasture growth was six per cent poor, 42 per cent fair, 46 per cent good and six per cent excellent.
Rain delayed first cut hay progress in the northwest. Fifteen per cent of tame hay growth was rated fair, 81 per cent good and four per cent excellent. Half of the hay was estimated to be good quality and the other half excellent. Pasture growth was 15 per cent fair, 82 per cent good and three per cent excellent.
In the Peace, the first cut had just started. Six per cent of tame hay acres were rated poor for growth, 45 per cent fair, 41 per cent good and eight per cent excellent. Three per cent of the hay was rated poor quality, 26 per cent fair, 58 per cent good and 13 per cent excellent. Pasture growth was eight per cent poor, 43 per cent fair, 41 per cent good and eight per cent excellent.
Haying had just started everywhere except the northwest, with one per cent baled or silaged, as of July 1, states Saskatchewan’s latest crop report. The dry spring lowered hay yield significantly. So far three per cent of hay was of excellent quality, 20 per cent good, 40 per cent fair and 37 per cent poor. Recent moisture improved many pastures, but producers were still dealing with reduced carrying capacity and looking for alternative feed sources.
In the southeast, recent moisture improved pasture, but producers expected hay to yield less than average. Hay quality was rated as six per cent excellent, 38 per cent good, 25 per cent fair and 31 per cent poor. Much of the region received rain, but amounts varied greatly across the region. Topsoil moisture on hayland and pasture was rated as one per cent surplus, 74 per cent adequate and 25 per cent short or very short.
Significant rain alleviated some of the dry conditions in the southwest. As of July 1, 89 per cent of hayland and pasture acres had adequate topsoil moisture. Producers reported there wasn’t much hay to bale. Pastures improved but carrying capacity was reduced. Forty per cent of hay was rated as good quality, 50 per cent fair and 10 per cent poor.
East-central Sask. saw scattered showers, ranging from trace amounts to 67 mm near Rocanville. Sixty-seven per cent of hayland and pasture had adequate topsoil moisture, with 32 per cent short or very short. Hay quality was rated as eight per cent good, 38 per cent fair and 54 per cent poor. Hay yields were expected to be lower than average and pastures’ livestock carrying capacity was reduced.
West-central Sask. also saw rain between June 25 and July 1, but producers were hoping for more moisture. Eighty-one per cent of hay and pasture acres had adequate topsoil moisture, with the balance short. Hay quality was rated as seven per cent good, 33 per cent fair and 60 per cent poor. Yields were looking lower than average. Rain boosted pastures but carrying capacity was reduced. Producers were looking for alternative feed sources.
Many areas in northeastern Sask. saw scattered showers. Eighty-per cent of topsoil moisture in hayland and pasture was adequate, 18 per cent short or very short and two per cent surplus. Pasture conditions had improved but many producers report below average hay yields. Hay quality was rated as 11 per cent excellent, 22 per cent good, 45 per cent fair and 22 per cent poor.
Much of northwestern Sask. saw rainfall, but amounts varied. Twenty-seven per cent of hayland and pasture topsoil was short, 66 per cent adequate and seven per cent surplus. Haying had not started, but quality was estimated to be 80 per cent fair and 20 per cent poor. Producers expected below-average yields and were looking for alternative feed sources. Pastures improved but carrying capacity was reduced.
The most recent Manitoba crop report noted that first cut hay and alfalfa yields were looking poor across the province, shifting the focus to short annual crops for livestock feed.
In the southwest, hay yields looked poor but some producers were haying poor stands in the hopes of a better second cut. Alfalfa weevil damage stopped blooming in many stands. The province recommends cutting these stands before the weevils cause too much damage.
Hay yields looked to be about a third of normal in northwestern Man. The report noted alfalfa weevils north of Ste. Rose. Dugouts were low or dry in the Rorketon area and producers were digging wells. Pasture health will decline rapidly without more rain.
In central Man., hay yields looked to be well below average, and some hay fields may not be worth cutting. Some yields were estimated to be a half to one bale per acre. Pasture and hay looked better in the southwest part of the region. Water supplies were a concern in the southeastern part of the region. Some producers were trying to source greenfeed.
Hayfield conditions were rated as 20 per cent good, 40 per cent fair and the balance poor or very poor in eastern Man. Hay yields were estimated to be 50 to 60 per cent of normal yield. Rain improved pasture growth, so livestock were being rotated. Forty per cent of the first cut was baled or silaged, and quality was looking good.
Forage availability was a big concern in the Interlake, with some producers predicting they’d be short of pasture by mid-July without more rain. Seventy per cent of hayland and pasture were short on topsoil moisture, with the balance very short. First cut yields were estimated at less than half of average. Some hay was cut early due to shortages or to get ahead of alfalfa weevils and grasshoppers. Seventy per cent of pastures were rated as poor or very poor, with 30 per cent rated fair. Some dugouts were dry.
Forage inventory was reported to be low and demand was up for oat seed for cover crops, the latest Ontario crop report notes. Producers who originally planned to rip up forage stands ended up keeping them. First cut was well underway, with yields reported to be 60 to 70 per cent of normal.
Spring grain acres were up, for forage or nurse crops to be harvested before the nurse heads out. Emergency forages were out there, but need to be fertilized, harvested and ensiled properly.
Forage oats and peas were still being planted. Producers also planted sorghum or sorghum-sudan grass, planning on two cuts. Producers with alternative forage crops should note that it is generally 45 to 60 days from planting to harvest, depending on the crop. More information on alternate forage options is available at fieldcropnews.com.
Several growers applied liquid manure after the first cut. Some reported wheel damage from hay harvest and manure application equipment.
Second cut yields looked good.