Forage report provides Sask. growers with market assessment

Saskatchewan forage yields were up in 2016, but quality was down from 2015 and forage prices are significantly lower this year because of excess supply, says a report published by the Saskatchewan Forage Council.

“In 2016, hay production yields were slightly above the long-term averages for the province and hay prices are significantly lower than they were in 2015,” the council said in its 2016 Forage Market Price Discovery Report.

“In 2016, alfalfa-grass hay is worth $103.85 per tonne compared with $177.35 per tonne as was reported in 2015.

“First and second cut alfalfa hay is … worth $97.78 per tonne and $127.36 per tonne respectively, compared with 2015 values of $197 per tonne and $232 per tonne in 2015.”

The report added that grass hay is worth roughly $100 per tonne in late 2016 compared with $163 in late 2015.

Greenfeed values were listed at $94.60 per tonne down from $141.

Straw values are up slightly roughly $63 a tonne compared with $47 in 2015.

Prices in the forage council report were compiled in September and based on information obtained through sources, including telephone interviews, personal interviews, electronic correspondence, social media communication and advertisements found online and in newspapers.

The report applies to the Sask-atchewan market only and is intended to provide an accurate assessment of forage prices across the province as of late September.

Prices are tracked through the fall and winter and a follow-up report will be completed in the winter to reflect any seasonal price changes.

“The information provided in this report can be useful for producers for a variety of purposes,” said council president Dave Kerr.

“As forage and weather conditions vary widely across the province, so do prices and availability,” he said.

Saskatchewan forage producers entered the growing season with decent supplies of unused hay on hand. This, combined with relatively good hay and pasture topsoil moisture during the spring, resulted in generally lower prices.

The quality of 2016 hay and forage crops looked good until persistent rain arrived in late July and early August.

“Producers who started haying in June had good haying conditions, although producers who began haying in July or tried to take a second cut later in the season struggled with the weather,” the report’s executive summary stated.

“More fair or poor quality hay was baled than normal due to wet weather, high humidity and rain on the swaths. The rainy weather persisted and some producers ended up waiting until August or even September to bale, which resulted in overly mature hay.”

Hay movement was relatively slow in the early fall. Sales of hay are likely to increase as the winter progresses. Some producers are likely to delay sales or purchases until they gain a clearer picture of winter weather trends and feed requirements.

“While there is forage listed, very few transactions are reportedly taking place,” said the report, dated Sept. 29.

“Interviews with hay brokers, producers and transporters indicate that there is not a lot of hay moving yet and perhaps the prices will shift. Given the downturn in the calf market, and the seemingly abundant feed grains that will be available, buyers seem apprehensive to buy hay at this point..”

Haying conditions, yields and prices were fairly similar in adjacent provinces, the report suggested.

Manitoba and Alberta reported good yields, but producers struggled with poor weather so forage is of lower quality. There are a lot of hay listings for both regions, but not a lot of hay is moving.

Saskatchewan’s forage freight rates for 2016 were $4.25 to $9 per loaded mile, the report said.

Prices for small square hay bales were listed at $4.89 per bale this fall compared to $7.17 per bale a year earlier.

Saskatchewan yields of alfalfa-grass hay in 2016 were roughly 1.5 tonnes per acre compared to .9 tonnes per acre in 2015.

The forage council report can be viewed at www.saskforage.ca.

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