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Manitoba hay crops see good year

Growers across the province report good 
to great year despite dry conditions

Manitoba forage growers are enjoying good yields this year and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

Markets to the east and south are readily picking up any extra hay they can find, said Dave Koslowsky, chair of the Manitoba Forage and Grassland Association.

He said producers he has talked to across the province report a good to great year.

“Most of the forage, yield was very good. It was a dry summer, but we were still quite surprised with how it yielded in the end,” he said.

As usual with any crop report covering a province-wide scale, there are exceptions. Producers in some areas saw poor stands, Koslowsky said. The second cut wasn’t as high as the farmers probably had hoped, but in other areas, it was fantastic.

He said he saw some of those variable yields on his own farm near Killarney.

“I know for myself, I had second cut a new field and the second cut was phenomenal, where in an old stand, well it was non-existent. So, it’s a lot to do with the management and the age of the stand.”

Overall, most forage producers grew a decent crop, he said, and areas that became drier as summer progressed had enough early-spring rain and subsoil moisture to see them through. The autumn rains now falling should set forage producers and pastures up nicely for next year, he added.

Most of Manitoba’s hay consists of alfalfa/hay mixed stands and most of it is fed locally, with producers selling their extra bales. A few producers export hay, normally in limited amounts.

This year, some Manitoba farmers are finding eager buyers in southern Saskatchewan and the northern United States, where drought conditions have strained pastures and left many cattle producers short of feed.

Koslowsky said he knows of one producer in Virden, Man., who sold all of his hay to the Assiniboia area of south-central Saskatchewan.

“That was back in June already. He had sold all of his production already at that point, even before he baled it.”

He added that growers in southern Manitoba’s Red River Valley and the region south of Winnipeg are selling into dairy markets in Minnesota.

“They’re selling hay down in that area just like you can’t believe,” he said, adding that even straw for blending into cattle rations is selling well.

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