The Manitoba Forage and Grassland Association is filling out the roster for this year’s Green Gold Program, and it’s looking for producers to add.
The program has become a standing tool for producers trying to get the optimal value from their hay cut. Participating producers submit samples from their fields throughout the season every year, samples which are then analyzed and feed into regional weekly reports for relative feed value, protein and stand height.
The program predicts “Hay Day,” the ideal time to cut for hay with an ideal relative feed value of 150, for each region of agro-Manitoba every year.
Why it matters: The Green Gold Program can help producers time their hay cut for the best possible quality, but the program must have enough producers pitching in samples for that data to be comprehensive.
The association recommends farmers cut hay when relative feed value drops to 170, allowing for a 15-20 point drop during harvest.
“Our goal is to have as many producers as we can so that we cover the province completely,” program co-ordinator John McGregor said.
The predictions may also inform farmer decisions when combined with the weather forecast, McGregor has said in previous years. A farmer may decide to cut early at a higher feed value if rain is expected, or make an informed decision to wait and accept a slightly lower feed value.
The program gives “producers an idea, depending on the quality of hay that they’re looking for, as to the time when they might want to consider cutting,” McGregor said.
Filling in gaps
McGregor hopes to see more names from the northwest and Interlake this year. Most participating producers have stemmed from the east or southwest, with some in central Manitoba, he said, and more participation from under-reported regions can only help the program’s data quality.
Conditions in northwest Manitoba differed significantly from other parts of the province last year. The region was one of the only parts of the province to see significant moisture leading up to the first cut. The Interlake, meanwhile, saw some of the overall driest conditions of the province throughout the growing season last year.
Producers will not incur any new bills from joining the program. The Manitoba Forage and Grassland Association absorbs any testing or shipping costs.
Producers are asked to collect samples twice a week, typically on a Monday and Wednesday morning, and then ship them to Winnipeg’s Central Testing Laboratory.
Producers are paid back for their efforts with the actual numbers from their field, rather than generalized results from their region, McGregor said.
“They are getting very timely information as to how their actual field is progressing,” he said. “We also get very positive information back when we get a good representation from an area. Producers can look at what their neighbours are doing and somewhat make an assumption that theirs should be advancing at somewhat the same rate.”
Producers may also express interest in joining the program, but later pull out if the field has regrowth issues, he added.
The association hopes to finalize its participant list by the start of May.
Farmers wanting to participate can contact the Manitoba Forage and Grassland Association or contact McGregor directly at 1-204-396-9217 or by email at [email protected]