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Feed test results provide an indication of the quality of feeds available for use this winter. Balancing the rations is the next step, which included the portioning of limited feed supplies to different classes of livestock on the farm. Determining the number of animals that can be fed over the winter is part of the decision making process.
Black, hard, seed-like fungal bodies that can be found in cereal grains and forage grasses is a sign of concern. This is ergot, a fungal disease that affects all cereal crops as well as many forage grass species. Ergot bodies, also called sclerotia, produce mycotoxins that are extremely harmful to both livestock and humans. Their appearance in some feed grains for cattle warrants a better understanding with how ergot affects plants and livestock as well as the best management practices around feeding contaminated grains.
Autumn is here and harvest is well underway for most areas. Harvest for second-cut hay has been behind this year due to a hot dry summer for most parts of Alberta, and there is still concern as to when to cut to prevent risk of winterkill.
Alfalfa typically requires a critical growing period between August 1st and the first killing frost, which normally occurs around September 15th. However, since we are well past that point, cutting can happen at any time, with little risk for winterkill. With the cold nights and cool days, and since many areas of Alberta have already received damaging and killing frosts, these plants have been forced into dormancy. Regrowth will have been limited or halted entirely. The plants will not be pulling stored root reserves for regrowth; instead, these stores will remain for regrowth next spring.
Assumptions: 1400 pound cow in late pregnancy consuming 20 pounds of straw, 13 pounds of barley grain and 1 pound of 32% beef supplement as the base ration. Cows are in good condition.
Addition of 70 to 100 pounds of 32% molasses (MolMix) to a 1000 pound bale of straw.
Prices: $0.25 per pound for MolMix, straw – 5 cents per pound, barley 10 cents per pound, 32% supplement 25 cents per pound.
March 8, 2017 – Spraying chemicals has expanded far beyond in-crop herbicides to include fungicides, pre-harvest, and other late season applications in many fields. Challenges arise as growers transition to spraying at different times of the year and into different crops, canopy heights and densities.
Grainews: Life for farmers planting hemp will be a little simpler in 2017, thanks to regulatory changes.
By Angela Lovell
MARA Staff did not write this article. It was originally published by the Grainews (January 24 2017 issue). Thanks to Grainews and Angela Lovell for granting us permission to use this.
Alberta’s new Carbon levy has come into place as of January 1, 2017. The levy puts a price on carbon emissions of $20/t carbon in 2017, and $30/t carbon in 2018. There have been several measures put into place to ease the cost to producers, however. This document will help sort the facts from the myths on what impact the levy will have on you as a producer
A year’s supply of hay has been harvested. Bales are coming into the feed yard for storage. What is the best strategy to stack and store the hay to minimize weather damage, shrink, and nutrient loss? Preventing moisture from migrating into the bales from rain or melting snow reduces bacteria, mold and fungi growth which reduces damage. Three common methods of stacking hay are compared.
Sept. 9, 2016 – Canola producers can lose up to five bushels or more per acre if the combine isn’t adjusted properly. Here are tips to measure combine losses and make adjustment to limit those losses, putting more canola in the bin and reducing the volunteer canola seedbank in your fields.
This video offers similar instructions:
Helping Make Energy Efficiency Achievable
The Government of Alberta, through Growing Forward 2 (GF2) a federal, provincial, territorial initiative, offers two incentive-based programs aimed at helping Alberta farmers and ranchers reduce energy consumption and associated costs.
By Kale Scarff, and Vern Steinborn
A sound seed base is necessary for optimum crop yield. Tests are available for seed pathogens. There are several cereal seed treatments to reduce pathogen induced losses. The decision to use a seed treatment depends on many factors: environmental conditions at seeding, crop rotations, pathogen exposure, cost, seed source and personal preference.
The risk of disease generally is reduced when proper crop rotations and a good seed source are used. Providing that seed source does not have a seed-borne disease, the most likely conditions when seed treatments would be effective are early seeding in cold soils with suboptimal moisture conditions (too dry or too wet).
Current information on different seed treatments is available in the Blue Book and on websites of companies manufacturing the chemicals. However, unbiased comparison of different seed treatments on crops in a given area helps producers to make informed decisions.
The most productive and widely adapted forage species is alfalfa. Alfalfa is a perennial plant and has been known to live longer than five years or more. The Experimental Farm in Fort Vermilion recently sod seeded into an Anik alfalfa stand that was estimated at twenty years of age. Thus decision to produce alfalfa and choose an appropriate variety may have long-term consequences.
There are over 230 alfalfa varieties in North America and every year this number increases by 20-30. Varieties differ substantially in regards to winterkill. Varieties with resistance to diseases (bacterial wilt, Fusarium wilt and root rot) and high winter hardiness can reduce chances of winterkill. Planting high yielding and well-adapted varieties ensures good yields due to healthy, vigorous and long-lasting stands. Severe winter conditions in Mackenzie County make variety hardiness a primary consideration in variety selection.
Winter wheat offers producers several advantages. It provides soil cover during the fall and winter, reducing the potential for wind and water erosion; spring moisture is not lost from seeding disturbance; seeding and harvest dates are off-set to different times of the year; and it often out-competes spring emerging weeds. Winter wheat lines have been found to vary in winter hardiness, e.g. SM-8323 is considered resistant to snow mold.
The production of winter wheat is concentrated in the southern areas of Alberta. Its area in northern areas of Alberta is limited due to poor winter survival and susceptibility to snow molds.
Turnip (Brassica rapa L.) is a root crop that has been used for livestock feed for over 600 years. There are several types of turnip on the market, which are classified in leafy-type and bulb-type categories. As for cattle use, it depends on the adaptability of the variety to a particular region and the time that the forage is grazed. Both leafy and bulb types have been grazed in the Peace region.
Turnips produce high-quality forage. With adequate rainfall for re-growth in northern Peace region they can be grazed 1-3 times in a season. In previous trials around Fort Vermilion, they have proven to be drought and cold tolerant, though establishment and re-growth is challenging. Late planting can provide extended grazing periods well into winter as cattle can pull turnips from the frozen ground.
Seeding and nitrogen rates can influence crop establishment, seed yield and seed protein level. Optimizing these factors had also demonstrated enhanced crop competitiveness to weeds.
For barley, a plant population of 22 plants/ft² is generally considered the optimum for weed management and yield. The change in grain protein content of barley seeds influences malt quality. The optimum level of protein for malting barley is between 9.5 and 11.5 per cent.
For canola, plant population in a range of 7 to 17 plants/ft² normally had very little effect on the final yield. Also, over this wide range the crop competes very well with weeds. However, differences in days to maturity may be negatively affected and the effect on maturity may be more pronounced in the weather conditions of northern Peace region.
Deterioration and aging cause the loss of seed quality. Careful handling of seed is especially important for large seeds. For example, mechanical damage can occur readily on low-moisture peas and cause faster spoilage. Frost damage caused by freezing temperatures during final developmental stages will lower seed quality. Heating damage, which may be linked with fungal activity, can be very detrimental as well. Other factors that will affect seed quality include insects, fungi and other pathogens. Good crop management starts with getting as much information on the quality of your seed.
Due to being energy dense feed, high yielding and palatable, corn is an excellent forage crop. Corn is also capable of utilizing large amounts of nutrients from soils receiving frequent manure applications, and grow well even in areas that may cause problems for cereal crops. However, intensive management, sufficient soil fertility, adequate water and sufficient heat must be available for a successful corn crop.
Sunflower is one of the few crop species that originated in North America. Records indicate that the western Native Americans domesticated the crop as early as 1000 BC. Its strong taproot and phototropic broadleaves allows the plant to increase light interception, photosynthesis, and resource use from soil. Although typically harvested for its seed, sunflower can also be used as a silage crop when seed crop is not possible due to early frost or other reasons. Earlier research has indicated that sunflower yields are generally less than corn but the nutritional quality is often higher.
The Peace River region of Alberta offers most challenging conditions for canola stand establishment in Western Canada. Only 20 to 40% of B. rapa (polish canola) and 25 to 30% of B. napus (Argentine canola) seeds can be expected to produce plants in the Peace region compared to 40 to 60% in most areas of western Canada (Canola Growers Manual). Low organic matter soils of the Peace region are prone to crusting and short growing season forces producers to seed canola in cold soils. Therefore, this area offers ideal conditions for assessing the effects of differences in seed quality on the establishment and yield of canola under field conditions.
Seeding two crops together (intercropping) that can utilize soil resources and sunlight during different parts of the growing season may improve forage production in terms of yield, quality and, and utilization. When grown together, the spring cereal can be cut for silage, usually shortly after heading (about 65% moisture), and the winter cereal may grow quickly in the absence of competition from the spring cereal for grazing later in the fall. The silage crops may suffer some yield loss but the silage and pasture yields may add up to produce more forage per acre than either one grown separately. The cereal combinations that can be useful for such purposes in the Peace region include spring seeding of spring barley or spring triticale intercropped with fall rye or winter triticale.
One obstacle to integrating winter cereals into a silage production system in the northern Peace region is the winter survival. Past research done at the AAFC Experimental Farm in Fort Vermilion, AB showed better winter survival from the winter cereals seeded into stubble rather than summer fallow.