There’s an abundance of poor-looking crops across Manitoba this summer.
Many cereal and oilseed crops are short with thin stands and low yield potential because of a drought that stretches back to the fall of 2019.
That problem, though, represents an opportunity to help livestock producers in the province who are facing a shortfall of hay and feed supplies.
That’s why a coalition of farm groups is asking Manitoba producers to consider all options before harvesting a drought-damaged crop this summer.
“Successive droughts in some regions of the province have taxed livestock producers’ ability to secure feed, so being able to source alternative feed and roughage sources is critical,” said Manitoba Beef Producers president Tyler Fulton.
“Producers with damaged crops should consider salvaging as much feed as possible.”
Manitoba Beef Producers, Keystone Agricultural Producers, the Manitoba Forage & Grassland Association, the Manitoba Crop Alliance, the Manitoba Bison Association and the Manitoba Sheep Association are working together on this issue to ensure that a portion of the poor crops are harvested as green feed or silage.
The feed is needed because the first-cut hay crop produced yields that were below average or terrible, and a second cut seems unlikely in much of Manitoba.
“Hay yields quite poor; vary from 10 to 25 percent of normal,” the Manitoba Agriculture crop report said when describing the Interlake region.
“Pasture growth is not keeping up to livestock requirements, and up to 15 percent of hayland has not been cut because of no salvageable growth.”
The coalition is encouraging farmers to contact the Manitoba Agricultural Services Corp., the provincial crop insurer, and consider using wheat, oats and other crops for feed.
MASC has information on its website on what grain farmers need to do if they plan to harvest a crop for an alternative use. Ideally, an insurance adjuster should appraise the crop before it is used for greenfeed or silage, but there are other options.
“If timing doesn’t allow for an adjuster to assess your crop prior to putting it to alternate use, producers must leave strips (one 10-foot-wide strip the full length of the field for every 40 acres) so that the adjuster can accurately assess the crop at a later date,” MASC said.
The appraisal must happen before or after the crop is used for greenfeed or silage.
A producer can then make an insurance claim for the appraised value of the crop and sell the greenfeed or silage at market prices.
“If the appraisal is 20 bushels per acre and you elect to cut it for feed, MASC will count these 20 bu. per acre as if it were harvested for grain,” MASC said.
“The proceeds from alternate use production (greenfeed or silage sales) are not part of your crop claim calculation.”
For more information, producers should contact MASC or an Manitoba Agriculture and Resource Development office and visit www.masc.mb.ca/masc.nsf/locations.html.