Calgary

Hot summer temperatures stunt hay growth in parts of Alberta

The dry, hot weather so far this summer is stirring up concerns about a possible hay shortage in Alberta.

'In the drier parts of the province, some farmers are sacrificing their cereal crops'

Greg Hawkwood, who farms near Cochrane, says the hot, dry conditions could result in a shortage of hay for cattle feed. (CBC)

The dry, hot weather so far this summer is stirring up concerns about a possible hay shortage in Alberta.

Barry Yaremcio, a beef and forage specialist with Alberta Agriculture, says hay production is well below average in some areas across southern and eastern Alberta.

Yaremcio says it's too early to say for certain there will be a hay shortage. But he says farmers might have to consider finding other ways to feed their cattle.

Farmer Greg Hawkwood cuts hay on his land near Cochrane. (CBC)

"In the drier parts of the province, some farmers are sacrificing their cereal crops, which they'd usually grow for grain and sell," he said.

"They're cutting it for green feed and silage so that they can have enough feed to make it through the winter with the number of cows they have."

Greg Hawkwood, who farms and ranches near Cochrane, says his hay yield is down and plant growth on many fields and pastures has stalled because of the lack of rain and soil moisture.

"They've run out of juice," he said.

"The odd shower helps, but it isn't the magic bullet. You gotta have periods of rain."

Hawkwood has about 162 hectares devoted to hay. "I got just about a thousand bales of hay last year. This year … I'd be lucky if I make 400," he said.

He says he may need to use some of his silage crops to feed his cattle this year.

Yaremcio says he should get a better sense of provincial hay production in about a week.

This dry spell comes on the heels of a dry year in parts of Alberta last year, he adds.

With files from Dave Gilson

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