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Salvaging Feed From Annual Crops

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The dry conditions throughout the province have resulted in some producers looking for feed options. Depending on whether producers are dealing with barley, oats or triticale, there are different feed options to consider.

“The main considerations right now are to take the pressure off perennial forage crops, provide more days of grazing, and stockpile what can be salvaged if it starts to rain,” says Bill Chapman, crop business development specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development, Barrhead.

The level of crop growth will determine options that individual producers can consider. Realistically, if a producer has crop insurance coverage and there is limited or no crop growth, it is key that they talk to their crop insurance adjuster and have the inspection done.

“The fact that there are dry conditions and a lack of growth in a large part of the province this year means that forages, whether hay, green-feed or silage prices are going to go up due to the demand,” says Chapman. “It is important to salvage as much as possible before proceeding to the next step.”

Chapman says that when it comes to reseeding options, producers will want to watch the depth of seeding (no more than an inch deep) and the seeding rate.

“It may be a good idea to combine spring and winter varieties of these crops. Spring varieties will head out and give some energy in a swath-grazing system or mixing spring and winter that will give swath-grazing options as well as additional forage for cattle to graze on and something for the next spring to put cattle and calves out on.

“In some cases, it is better to seed a little lighter, from a bushel to a bushel-and-a-half per acre seeding rate. There is research that shows that fewer plants will actually produce more grain and energy per acre when conditions are dry.”

Chapman says spring triticale is one crop that producers may want to consider as it seems to offer some good options under current conditions. Recent research has shown that spring triticale will give more growth and about 15 per cent more grain yield with the spring varieties, as well as some efficient weed control options. Forage growth will actually give more energy per acre than corn or other forage crops given the conditions this year.”

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