The call is out for producers willing to feed data into this year’s Manitoba Forage and Grassland Association Green Gold program.
The annual program, which monitors alfalfa quality through May and June, publishes weekly reports on alfalfa crop progress leading up to the first hay cut and is entering its 25th year this season.
Why it matters: The Manitoba Forage and Grassland Association Green Gold program is gearing up to track alfalfa quality again this year, but first it needs fields to draw that data from.
The program asks producers to sample alfalfa twice weekly and to send those samples into Winnipeg’s Central Testing Laboratory for analysis. Samples are generally taken on Mondays and Wednesdays, program co-ordinator John McGregor said, while costs for transporting and testing the samples are covered by the Manitoba Forage and Grassland Association.
Individual field results are released to the producers, as well as being integrated into the program’s weekly regional hay quality reports. The program targets a “Hay Day,” or the point where fields in each region reach optimum feed quality.
“Every year I do get back a number of reports from producers commenting about how useful the program has been in their operation,” McGregor said. “We’ve been doing it for a long time and we’re still getting a lot of positive feedback and every year we keep adding new producers to the program.”
The program tests pure alfalfa samples rather than mixed hay.
Last year would have represented one of the program’s better years for uptake, had it also drawn the handful of farms that typically submit out of the Interlake, according to McGregor.
The program identified a data gap out of the Interlake last year. The Green Gold program did not attract any Interlake participants last year, something McGregor attributes to the area’s poor forage stands. Hayfields in the Interlake produced little in both 2018 and 2019 due to dry conditions, leading several municipalities to announce a state of agricultural emergency. McGregor noted that many fields had little to sample, even if producers had wanted to sign on with the Green Gold program.
He is expecting better results this year.
“I think we’ve come through last fall with a fair bit of moisture throughout most of the province,” he said. “We’ve had a fairly good winter — not an excessive amount of snow, but I think we’ve had good moisture and good growing conditions, so the alfalfa that is out there should have survived quite well.”
The program hopes to see 20 to 25 fields registered with the program this year.
The Manitoba Forage and Grassland Association is asking producers to contact McGregor at [email protected] if they wish to submit samples to the program.