Alberta

“Forages are slow off the start in Alberta; cold weather and a pretty major snowstorm put us off target by a week or so,” says Barclay Lutz of Lutz Hay, who raises 6,000 acres of alfalfa, timothy and orchardgrass in Alberta, Canada.

“Alfalfa crops are just emerging and grass crops are a few inches high. Our subsoil moisture is well below average in the south,” he says. Dryland forages are showing stress from lack of moisture. That area is largely irrigated, though, yet with doubled power and natural gas prices from last year’s contracted numbers, input costs will be high. “Ninety percent of our irrigation is pumped from reservoirs and ditches using power or natural gas,” says Lutz, who irrigates 3,500 acres.

“Everyone is talking about a shortage of forage crops and extremely high prices,” Lutz says. “I feel that prices will be stronger than they were last year, but that the shortage of alfalfa and timothy acres may be exaggerated. We seeded approximately 700 acres of new forages this year and took out about 800 acres for rotational reasons. On the 10,000-acre farm we operate, our forage production will be much the same as it was last year … we have had a small shift toward more alfalfa production due in part to fertilizer prices, domestic demand, and a weaker U.S. dollar hampering timothy exports.

“It appears as though everyone around here is thinking the same as I am: production will be much the same as it was last year. Although we would like to see huge prices, we expect marginal increases of $20-35/ton.” Lutz’ equipment dealer services a large area of southern Alberta and has no new balers or cutters for sale and very little used machinery, he says. “This leads me to believe people are gearing up to take off another average-acre hay crop this year.

“We expect to sell hay out of the field for $100-140/ton. Our first cut generally services the pressed bale export market and dairy markets, so field prices in June and July are usually a good representation of prices for the rest of the year. I am excited to have this vibrant market and increased global and domestic interest in hay production,” says Lutz, who markets into the Northwestern U.S. and also does some business in California and Texas. “It is nice to see that, as a whole over North America, we will have people waiting to buy our product at a price I would hope we can make a small profit on.”

Contact Lutz at 403-380-3906.

Texas

Some parts of Texas continue to suffer from drought conditions, while other areas received some rain, according to the Texas AgriLife Extension Service at Texas A&M University. Coastal bermudagrass fields are reportedly doing well in central Texas, and winter grasses are providing good grazing in that area. The Rolling Plains district received a much-needed soaking rain with nearly 4” falling in some areas. Pastures are looking good and cattle are in good condition. Some producers are still trying to plant grass before it gets too late.

Cool nights have slowed summer forage growth and the soil moisture profile is in good shape in northern Texas. Many ranchers have started to bale early season hay, but yields, at 2-2.25 tons/acre, have been down dramatically. Many are planting new bermudagrass pastures. Existing bermudagrass stands are coming on a little late and need some warm temperatures. Producers who have reserves may not bale hay this year due to high fuel and fertilizer prices.

The southwestern part of the state remained dry as of last week, with only insignificant rain showers at isolated locations. The year-to-date rainfall total is 1.06” at Uvalde, compared to a long-term average of nearly 8”. Record-high temperatures and dry winds are aggravating the drought. Forage availability remains below average.

For more about Texas conditions, visit agnews.tamu.edu/showstory.php?id=485.