Slim pickings for forage seed this growing season

Anyone thinking about growing forages this year better act sooner than later.

Strong cattle values coupled with low grain and oilseed prices is shifting marginal acres back to forages, Kevin Shaw, sales and marketing representative at Pickseed, said at the recent Alberta Forage Industry Network annual general meeting.

And there’s not an excess of forage seed around given that yields were only average last year, he added.

“Forage seed supply is going to be a little on the tight side,” said Shaw. “My phone is really heating up.”

Alfalfa seed is mainly grown on contract, making it the most stable seed supply for the upcoming year. Grass seeds — bromes and fescues — are produced on an open-contract basis, so “those fields can get worked under pretty quickly” in favour of more profitable crops, he said.

“A couple years ago when canola was going to be everybody’s golden goose, a lot of those acres got ripped out and put into annual crops.”

Even with the tight supply, Shaw said producers should be able to find seed even if they have to wait until later in the season. But they may not get the quality or type of seed they want, he added.

“You better speak for your grass seeds sooner rather than later.”

More from the Alberta Farmer Express website: High hopes for new forage beef centre, but ‘fickle governments’ a worry

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Jennifer Blair

Jennifer Blair is a Red Deer-based reporter with a post-secondary education in professional writing and nearly 10 years of experience in corporate communications, policy development, and journalism. She's spent half of her career telling stories about an industry she loves for an audience she admires--the farmers who work every day to build a better agriculture industry in Alberta.

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