Manitoba forages fight past winterkill, pest issues

CNS Canada — The first hay cut is well underway in several parts of Manitoba as favourable weather conditions set the stage for what could be a decent forage season.

“Generally speaking they’re (forages) all doing well,” said Pamela Iwanchysko, farm production extension specialist with the provincial government in Dauphin. “The rains were timely.”

What farmers could use now is some dry weather, she added, so they can get alfalfa into bale form.

“A lot of guys have put up alfalfa silage already,” she added.

According to the province’s latest crop report, some flowering has begun on some alfalfa fields while weevils have also been spotted in certain locations.

“I did actually see some weevils (on Tuesday) in the McCreary area; they’ve done some significant damage there,” said Iwanchysko. “The weevil is a definite concern.”

That’s why prompt cutting is important, she said, as it eliminates the weevils’ food source, forcing them to move on somewhere else.

A lot of the alfalfa already suffered winterkill due to untimely frosts and low snow cover. Because of this, the hay yield potential in Manitoba is estimated to be lower than normal.

“There may have to be reseeding on newly established alfalfa fields if they haven’t already done so,” said Iwanchysko.

Aphids have also been spotted in alfalfa fields and spraying is underway, but at this point they’re not a real concern, she said.

— Dave Sims writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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