Green Gold calling out for Manitoba alfalfa growers

The yearly hay quality monitoring program is ramping up again for 2021, and organizers are calling out for grower participation

The Manitoba Forage and Grassland Association (MFGA) is once again on the hunt for producers to fill out its roster for this year’s Green Gold program.

The association is looking for producers willing to tap their fields for regular hay samples, which will then feed into the alfalfa quality monitoring program.

Why it matters: Alfalfa growers, particularly those looking to harvest dairy-quality hay, rely on regular reports from the MFGA to help target cutting time, based on data from their region.

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The program has built itself up as a tool for Manitoba forage producers over almost three decades. Each year, the program releases regular, region-specific, reports on stand height, feed value and protein levels leading up to the first cut. The program then counts down to a region’s “hay day” — pegged as the best time to cut for ideal feed quality, something that has made the program valuable in particular for those targeting dairy-quality alfalfa hay.

Stands volunteered for sampling should largely consist of alfalfa, be fairly new and be in good condition for testing, the association has said.

The program requires producers to test fields twice weekly (on Mondays and Wednesdays) and to send samples in for analysis to Winnipeg’s Central Testing Laboratory. Courier costs are covered by the MFGA.

The payoff for that labour, the association says, is the resulting field-specific, real-time, insight the producer gets into their field on a twice-weekly basis.

The program is hoping for about 20 producers to submit samples from across all regions of Manitoba this year, Green Gold program co-ordinator Terra Bergen said.

“The more the better, but our main goal is about 20,” she said.

The program has faced data gaps in previous years. In 2019, the program lacked data points from the Interlake, something attributed to poor hay stands in the region that year. In an emailed newsletter to its membership in mid-March 2021, the association noted that recent years have seen fields from eastern, central and western Manitoba enrolled.

The program has seen decent geographic spread in the producers who have already committed their names for 2021, Bergen noted.

“We’ve had people already from the southeast to the west and a bit into the Interlake as well already,” she said.

Organizers would, however, still like to see more samples flowing in from the central and Interlake regions.

“In the south part, we would like to have some more as well,” Bergen said. “In the southwest and the central west would be great.”

So far the program has seen both a return of producers enrolled in previous years, as well as new names on the list, Bergen said.

Producers interested in volunteering their fields for testing should email [email protected].

About the author

Reporter

Alexis Stockford

Alexis Stockford is a journalist and photographer with the Manitoba Co-operator. She previously reported with the Morden Times and was news editor of  campus newspaper, The Omega, at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, BC. She grew up on a mixed farm near Miami, Man.

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