Hot summer temperatures stunt hay growth in parts of Alberta
'In the drier parts of the province, some farmers are sacrificing their cereal crops'
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.
"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.
- MORE ALBERTA NEWS | Disqualified UCP candidate stands behind calling Islam an 'evil cult'
- MORE ALBERTA NEWS | Pilot dies as 'amateur built' helicopter crashes southeast of Calgary
- Read more articles by CBC Calgary, like us on Facebook for updates and subscribe to our CBC Calgary newsletter for the day's news at a glance.
With files from Dave Gilson