By Connor Lynch
Dim prospects for first-cut hay, coming off a drought year, have started to come around.
A lot of hay acres were playing catchup last month with the eventual arrival of hot weather.
As of June 19, the Eastern Ontario alfalfa harvest was about 80 per cent done, thanks largely to a week of hot dry weather, independent agronomist Gilles Quesnel told Farmers Forum.
Some growers started harvesting first cut around the first week of June, Quesnel said, but those were mostly dairy farmers who were short on feed. Quality was decent but yields were low because of cool, wet weather. There was concern across Eastern Ontario early in the harvest season over winterkill and slow growth, but things have been catching up rapidly, he said.
Wet weather kept farmers out of fields even when the hay was mature and that meant plants were getting over mature. But the sudden heat that warmed Eastern Ontario in the middle of June dried out the hay crop thoroughly and made a big difference in quality, Quesnel said.
“On the whole, quality has been really good.” Yields are a bit light, said Quesnel, but beef farmers who don’t mind a drop in quality should see that volume grow, he said. “As harvest is delayed and we get some heat, growth will be tremendous.”
Even farmers who had to get into the fields earlier than they wanted to have reason to be optimistic, he said. Growers who were concerned about short hay supplies three weeks ago and harvested in early June are looking at a very solid second cut, he said.
“It hasn’t solved all the concern over forage supply, but growers have nowhere near the concern they had (at the end of May),” Quesnel said.