Alberta Alfalfa Hay

Alberta Alfalfa Hay

Medicago sativa is the Latin name for “the Queen of Forages”, alfalfa, the most popular and important forage legume grown in Canada. (Agriculture Canada, 1987) It owes its monarchic nickname to its many virtues and merits. Alberta Alfalfa Hay is considered to be one of the most palatable and nutritious of hays. Rich in protein, vitamins and minerals, alfalfa hay is one of the chief components of dairy cattle feed, as well as serving as an important dietary ration for milking goats, beef cattle, sheep and horses. Aside from the nutritional advantages that it provides for ruminants and a variety of equine species, alfalfa is also an indirect source for honey as bees gather a substantial amount of nectar from alfalfa flowers. (Alfalfa)  This high-yielding cultivar also has a great ability to improve soil quality and provide weed control for ensuing crops.

The plant itself is a bushy perennial legume which grows to a height of 60-100 cm. Its leaves consist of 3 leaflets which can range in shape from almost round to lanceolate. The stems are slender and may be either hollow or solid. Flowers grow in clusters of 10-20 and the florets are usually blue or purple, white or yellow, occasionally bronze and green and may be variegated with shades of blue and green. (Goplen, 1987) Seed pods are slightly downy and vary from kidney or sickle shaped to single, double or triple-coiled in appearance; however “the sickle pod has been almost eliminated by selection because it contains few seeds and shatters easily”. (Goplen et al., 1987, p.6)

The roots of the alfalfa plant are of four types: tap, branch, rhizomatious and creeping. The majority of roots probably penetrate most soils to a depth of about 2 m. (Fulkerson) Taproots typically penetrate “from 7 to 9 m, but roots have been observed 39 m deep in a mine beneath an alfalfa field”. (Sheaffer & Evers, 2007, p. 182) “Depending on the length of the growing season and maturity at harvest, alfalfa will have from 2 to 10 regrowth cycles”. (Sheaffer & Evers, 2007, p.182)

One of the distinctive characteristics of alfalfa is its ability to tap into the nitrogen supply Alberta Alfalfa Hayin the air. It does this through an especially unique symbiotic relationship with a particular type of soil bacteria. These bacteria produce nodules on the root that convert nitrogen in the air into a form that is readily used by the plant- a process called “nitrogen fixation”. Soil acidity directly affects the growth and survival of these bacteria and can be a significant impediment to high alfalfa yields. Saline soil conditions also deter productivity because salinity adversely affects seed germination and also prevents roots from taking in water and essential nutrients.

At Barr-Ag, we take up to three cuts of the early maturing varieties of Alberta Alfalfa Hay from our irrigated farms. This alfalfa is sought after for its higher protein content. The later maturing variety is grown on our dryland properties and we harvest up to two cuts. All of our alfalfa hay is non-GMO.(See to the attached article: USDA to OK Genetically Modified Alfalfa )

Barr-Ag’s head office is located at 5837 Imperial Drive, Olds, Alberta, Canada, T4H 1G6. Please visit our website or call or write if you have any questions about our timothy hay, non-GMO alfalfa hay or any of our other products. We can be reached by telephone at: 403 507 8660 or by email at: info@barr-ag.com or haysales@barr-ag.com
References:
Fulkerson, R.S., Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Publication 59
Goplen, B.P, Baenziger, H., Bailey, L.D., Gross, A.T.H., Hanna, M.R., Michaud, R., Richards, K.W., Waddington, J., (1987) Agriculture Canada: Growing and Managing Alfalfa in Canada, Publication 1705/E
McKenzie, Ross H., (2005) Agri-Facts: Soil and Nutrient Management of Alfalfa
Sheaffer, Craig C., Evers, Gerald W., (2007) Forages: The Science of Grassland Agriculture
Alfalfa: http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/life/botany/alfalfa-info.htm
Forage: http://www4.agr.gc.ca/AAFC-AAC/display-afficher.do?id=1174594338500&lang=eng

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Genetically Modified Crops

Genetically Modified Crops

Since 1994, GM foods have been permitted to be sold in Canada. Currently, Canada’s growing of genetically modified crops is limited to canola, soybean, corn and sugar beets of which most are exported to foreign countries. The country is one of the largest exporters of GMO crops in the world. Recently, field tests have begun on growing GM alfalfa in Ontario and Quebec that have raised concern over the probable contamination of Canada’s naturally grown alfalfa crop through cross pollination.

Appearance of Genetically Modified Crops

Genetically modified crops were first produced in 1982 and by 1986; the first field trials were done on tobacco for herbicide resistance. In 1994, the United States approved its first food crop, a tomato. Since then, GM crops have exploded in variety and availability.

Claimed Benefits of GMOs

GMO crops do have their advantages:

  • Because they have been engineered to be more drought resistant, they can be grown in borderline areas and places that might not have been usable previously.
  • They can provide more nutrients such as the vitamin A in rice exported to countries with poor populations and malnutrition issues.
  • There is also a larger yield per acre with some crops and they are much more resistant to disease, herbicides and insect infestation.

Why is There Concern over GMOs?

Much discussion  has ensued over GM crops and whether they are environmentally safe. While the subject has been widely researched, there continues to be controversy over whether there has been enough proof found to be certain that GM crops are safe. It is not so much safety for human consumption, as it is safety for our environment.

The biggest issue appears to be cross-contamination of adjacent natural crops, which is almost impossible to control. Is this going to cause the eventual extinction of natural crops within a few decades? No one knows, as there has just not been enough long term research to determine what the outcome will be.

Barr-Ag

 

Contact Barr Ag to get more information on any of our crops including Alfalfa, Timothy, Mixed Hay, Canadian Grains and Pulse crops.

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Forage Trends North America 2016

Forage Trends North America 2016

Canadian alfalfa hay has continued its upward movement for the first quarter of 2016 as we continue to monitor forage trends across North America. Improved demand on a world-wide basis results from a larger demand and smaller supply globally of natural forage. This is an excellent indication of an ongoing upward movement for the year. A lot of this can be attributed to the global market which has a strong bias against GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) crops and Canadian alfalfa hay is completely natural.

Increased Production of GMO Crops

A big issue again this year is GMO crops. There are already test plots in Ontario and Quebec, alfalfa hayand there is a real fear that these will cross pollinate and ruin the natural alfalfa crop which could end up being a disaster of biblical proportion. The United States already has an issue with GMO crops, and China along with other countries, has issued a total ban on the importation of GMO crops. So far, Canada has stayed away from GMO crops, but there appears to be some bleed-over from the border which, if not corralled, will become an issue. Alberta, in particular, is already having a problem with contaminated seed.

 

Increase of Alfalfa Growth

Canada currently has about 32 million acres in forage crops, most of those in the west. Of these millions of acres, only about 25,000 are growing alfalfa seed. However, that’s changing rapidly due to the lack of seed acreage in the United States. Natural alfalfa seed acreage has risen substantially in the last few years and that trend is estimated only to continue. Until GMO crops are better researched and more is understood about their effect on humans, animals, nature, and the environment, natural seed production will only continue to grow.

Corn Silage Growth

If alfalfa is queen of the forage crops, corn silage is king. Corn silage has shown considerable growth in the last few years and it looks to be continuing. This can be attributed to higher yield and continued growth into late harvest which raises the starch content.

In conclusion, Canadian alfalfa hay looks to be fairly strong this year partially due to the GMO issue. Until further research is conducted on the effects that GMO crops have on humans, animals, and the environment, the increase of alfalfa crop production will only continue.

Barr-Ag

 

Contact Barr Ag to get more information on any of our crops including Alfalfa, Timothy, Mixed Hay, Canadian Grains and Pulse crops.

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Canadian Grain Exports

Canadian Grain Exports

Grain Trends North America – 2016

Canadian grain exports of wheat, excluding durum, have reached nearly 10 million tons between August 2015 and January 2016. This is up from the same 2014 to 2015 period by almost 19% (8.1 million tons). March 2016 prices are averaging approximately $4.40 per bushel. Durum wheat is projecting a slight acreage increase due to the better prices in 2015.

With Canadian grain exports of 24.1 million tons this past year, Canada overtook the United States in wheat exports for the first time. This looks to be an ongoing trend with slight fluctuations over the next several years.

Globally, wheat production is trending lower for 2016. The U.S. projects the lowest exports since 1971 due to competition from other countries, including Canada. In addition, the higher prices and demand for pulses, or legume seeds, indicates a decrease in acreage for wheat and an increase for the pulses.

Canola is currently up from 4.1 million tons to 4.8 million tons for the crop year. This is a significant increase from the five-year average. Canola prices average $10.00 per bushel according to the latest prices and it doesn’t appear there will be much change in acreage.

There is a growing trend towards the production of pulses due to their high protein Dried Red Lentils - Pulse Cropscontent and increasing demand by consumers and restaurants. As the demand for this popular seed increases, it’s likely cereal grains will lose some acreage to pulse production. Prices are strong for lentils and peas at .25 to .40 per pound for lentils and $8.00 to $9.00 per bushel for yellow peas.

Overall, 2016 looks to be a mixed year for Canadian grain exports with wheat prices remaining stable and canola showing an increase. Pulses are likely to continue their current trend with a significant increase due to their growing popularity.

Barr-Ag

 

Contact Barr Ag to get more information on any or our crops including Alfalfa, Timothy, Mixed Hay, Canadian Grains and Pulse crops.

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GMO Wheat

GMO Wheat

While many people have heard the term “GMO,” some do not know what it really means. The acronym GMO stands for genetically modified organism. There has been plenty of controversy surrounding GMO wheat and other GMO foods, since many claim that they are unsafe to consume and negatively impact the planet. In fact, it is illegal to grow GMO wheat in Canada and the United States.

Wheat is one of the most widely consumed crops on our planet. It is used in bread, GMO Wheat and Breadnoodles, cereal, beer and several other products. Unfortunately, the supply of wheat can’t keep pace with the ever-expanding number of humans. Some believe that genetically modified wheat is the solution, since massive amounts can be grown in a short period of time compared to traditional wheat. Here’s a closer look at the pros and cons of this type of wheat.

Pros

GMO wheat can be grown in large volumes, since it is resistant to infections and parasites, which are major threats to conventional wheat. Proponents argue that we should opt to devote our limited farmland to this type of wheat, since it is highly efficient compared to relatively slow-growing traditional wheat.

Some argue that genetically modified wheat is of higher quality because it carries extra nutrients that boost the crop’s nutritional value. Scientists alter wheat’s genetics to make it much healthier to consume. It is also worth noting that this type of wheat can withstand some severe environmental conditions, including brutal cold spells and drought.

Cons

Humanity has yet to experience the long-term results of genetically modified wheat consumption, leading opponents to argue that it is potentially dangerous to human health. This type of wheat might have a negative impact on consumers’ bodies, but the real consequences are still unclear. Opponents believe that genetically modified wheat compromises antibiotic resistance and even affects allergies.

Those against GMO wheat also believe that it harms the environment. Arguments pertaining to GMO wheat’s negative environmental impact are extensive. Some state that this wheat causes a decline in biodiversity where a single crop emerges into dominance. Others say it is responsible for cross-pollination in which other crops are forcefully replaced.

There are also social consequences to genetically modifying wheat. Since improvements in GMO wheat are expensive to implement at this point, only wealthy farmers are able to take the GMO route.

Contact Barr Ag to get more information on any or our crops including Alfalfa and Timothy Hays, Mixed Hay, Canadian Grains and Pulse corps.

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Canadian Timothy Hay

Canadian Timothy Hay

Canada’s forage industry is booming as Asian markets continue to provide strong demand for one of the most commonly-grown forage grasses in Canada, timothy hay. Timothy is perfectly suited for growing in cooler, more temperate climates like that of the Alberta province. As far as forage grasses go, timothy hay is one of the more palatable options and preferred by most livestock.

Barr-Ag grows timothy hay in the cool and clean environment of the Canadian Rockies. Timothy Hay Barr-AgThe area near the eastern slopes where Barr-Ag grows its timothy is known for producing the sweetest timothy hay anywhere on the planet. It is thought that this is the result of the outstanding growing environment created by the perfect altitude and seasonal changes for timothy hay.

Timothy is a perennial bunchgrass that is well-adapted to climates like those found in Western Canada. The fertile farmland there is paired with long daylight hours and plentiful sun; because of the exceptional environment for the growing season, Barr-Ag is able to grow and produce timothy hay of unsurpassed quality. This is very important as increased incomes and better standards of living in many areas of the Middle East and Asia are resulting in higher demands for animal-based protein and dairy. The rapidly-expanding dairy and beef industries in Asian countries rely on Canadian timothy hay due to limited land area for growing forage in their own countries. In fact, Canadian timothy hay exports are growing nearly exponentially and currently account for more than $100 million in trade on a yearly basis.

Barr-Ag produces dry-land timothy hay that is harvested once every season, and irrigated timothy that can be harvested twice every season. Nearly all hay produced by Barr-Ag comes from their farms, with the balance coming from trusted producers. Additional hay is procured only from producers who have been carefully vetted to ensure their adherence to Barr-Ag’s strict growing protocols and standards of quality control.

Barr-Ag makes shipping easy through thorough accommodation of customer needs. All shipping and customs documents are prepared for buyers to help ensure that every delivery goes smoothly. Shipments to other continents, as well as those heading into the US, are treated with the utmost care and are routed through various ports to keep shipping time to a minimum. Various shipping options are offered by Barr-Ag, including cost and freight (CNF) and freight on board (FOB); container yard (CY) shipping is also available.

Contact Barr Ag to get more information on any or our crops including Alfalfa, Timothy, Mixed Hay, Canadian Grains and Pulse crops.

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Canadian Grain Exports

Canadian Grain Exports

Canada as a top producer of wheat in the world, typically places seventh among major wheat producing countries in yearly comparisons.Across Canada, nearly 52,000 farmers grow wheat on over 22.8 million acres of Canadian land. Although wheat is grown across the country, the majority of the production of Canadian wheat exports takes place in Western Canada.

Canada is also the second largest exporter of wheat in international trade, averaging overCanadian Grain Exporters 20 million tonnes exported annually. In 2012, this number surpassed 27 million tonnes.Canadian grain exports account for approximately 21% of all wheat exports in the world market. Wheat export revenues in Canada total almost $5.4 billion each year. Some of the major importers of Canadian grain exports are China, Mexico, Japan, Colombia, Iraq, and the United States.

In addition to producing a large quantity of wheat, Canada is also renowned for the quality of its wheat. The Canadian Grain Commission (CGC) established quality standards in the Canada Grain Regulations Section 5. In addition to maintaining quality standards, the CGC records annual crop year data for wheat.

The CGC divided wheat into several unique classes, based on the grains functional characteristics. Growing regions in Canada, Western and Eastern, determine the categorization placed on the classes. Each class possesses a certain set of characteristics and is best suited for specific end uses.

Because of the superior quality of Canadian hard wheat, it is primarily used in the making of pastas and semolina. This hard wheat, also called durum, accounts for nearly half the total of world exports with Algeria and Italy the two largest customers.

Not only is Canada a leader in wheat exports it is now the second largest exporter of barley in the world with an average of 3.8 million tonnes per year capturing 22% of the world’s trade in brewing and feed barley.

Canadian grain exports dominate the market with nearly four million tonnes exported annually, it accounts for 80% of the total exports of canola, and 10% of the total oil seeds exports on the world market. To put these figures in perspective, the second highest exporter of canola, the European Union, only exports just over 300,000 tonnes each year. As demand for canola continue to grow, Canada’s canola industry is soon expected to exceed 12,000 tonnes per day.

Contact Barr Ag to get more information on any or our crops including Alfalfa and Timothy Hays, Mixed Hay, Canadian Grains and Pulse corps.

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Canadian Alfalfa Hay and Its Many Benefits

Canadian Alfalfa Hay

Over the past four decades, the Canadian Alfalfa processing industry has experienced tremendous growth. Today, it ranks as one of the top five largest exporters of Alfalfa in the world. Alberta-grown Alfalfa hay offers many benefits and advantages when compared to hay grown in other parts of the world. Canadian Alfalfa hay provides farmers with a consistently higher quality product, while also offering a more rapid harvesting time than many other types of hay.

Because of its high protein content, farmers across Canada and the United States use dehydrated Alfalfa hay as food for their livestock. The soil on the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rockies is rich in calcium and magnesium, which helps to produce a more robust, nutrient rich hay.

The clean air, long warm days, and cool nights in Canada ensure a vigorous production Canadian Alfalfa Hayduring the shorter growing season. Dry land alfalfa hay may be harvested up to twice per season, while irrigated alfalfa hay can be harvested up to three times each season. Because of it has a deep perennial root system, Alfalfa hay is a high water use forage crop. Although it optimally requires 540 to 680 mm of water per growing season in Alberta, the crop is relatively drought tolerant.

The long Canadian winters allow farmers to grow Alfalfa hay using more natural methods. This significantly reduces the need for pesticides and herbicides, as the cold temperatures effectively discourage pests and most weeds. The shorter growing season allows the land a greater resting period to recuperate. This recovery time helps eliminate the need for artificial fertilizers to coax more production, as is commonly necessary in areas with warmer climates.

This non-GMO crop also offers more stringent quality control guidelines. Instead of being graded by observation and smell the way Timothy hay is, Alfalfa hay is tested and graded by independent labs. Canadian Alfalfa hay promises a more consistent product, year after year.

Barr-Ag is a family-owned operation with a farm-to-farm business model. This allows them the unique ability to maintain much tighter control over the product they export. Barr-Ag’s farms and producers are strategically positioned near the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rocky Mountains where they are fortunate to have clean air, long warm days with cool nights, soil rich in calcium and magnesium and a pristine environment in which to grow their non-GMO alfalfa hay.

Growing 60% of all exported hay ensures that they can set high standards in place at each stage of their product, from planting to packaging. The remaining 40% of their stock is purchased from local growers with the same dedication to quality. Barr-Ag’s quality standards allow them to guarantee mold-free hay with less than 12% moisture content.

Contact Barr Ag to get more information on any or our crops including Alfalfa, Timothy, Mixed Hay, Canadian Grains and Pulse corps.

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Modernizing Canadian Grain Sector

Grains-2

Changes to Canada’s Grain Industry Act were introduced last month in the House of Commons by the Government of Canada. These changes will enhance Canadian grain quality and grain safety assurance, as well as increase protection for Canadian grain producers. This Bill will continue to modernize the Canadian grain industry, ensuring international grain importers are receiving top quality grain using the most effective processes possible.

Changes are to make the monitoring of grain safety more consistent throughout Canada. It will also allow for more effective enforcements of violations under the Canada Grain Act, Canada Grain Regulations and orders issued by the Canadian Grain Commission (CGC).

The CGC is the federal agency responsible for establishing and maintaining Canada’s grain quality standards and regulating the grain handling process to provide a reliable product for domestic and export markets.

Grain safety includes monitoring, research and testing grain for toxic substances. These amendments to the Canada Grain Act will further ensure to purchasers of Canadian grain that it is a safe commodity, free of contamination.

Candian Grain ExporterThe amendments would also allow the CGC to build a compensation fund for producers that would protect them if a licensee fails to pay for grain deliveries. The access producers have for determining grade and dockage for deliveries will now include process elevators, grain dealers and more container loading facilities. Furthermore, container loading facilities will have a new class of license, which will be brought under producer payment protection programs. All of these improvements will enhance the Canadian grain export process and benefit international customers.

“Canadian grain farmers drive our economy and this is one of the many ways we are modernizing the sector to make it more competitive. This legislation will continue to modernize the organizations that support the Canadian grain sector and enhance Canada’s excellent reputation around the world as a supplier of consistent, safe and high-quality grains.” – Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz.

This Bill is to build upon amendments that were made to the Canada Grain Act in October 2012 as part of the Jobs and Growth Act. The 2012 changes were the first changes to be made in over 40 years, streamlined the operations of the CGC and eliminated unnecessary costs to Canadian grain producers.

“We are helping our farmers and the grain industry continue to fuel our economy and remain competitive both at home and abroad,” said Ritz in 2012. “Through these changes, the Harper Government is delivering on its commitment to modernize the grain sector and grow Canada’s competitive advantage, which will boost the economy for all Canadians.”

The changes introduced last month are part of the Government’s commitment to the Canadian grain sector. They hope to enhance regulatory modernization, investments in science and research and trade and market access.

Exporters of Quality Canadian Grain

Barr-AG is an exporter of Canadian Grains to countries around the globe. Canadian grains including oats, barley, wheat and oil seed crops such as flax and canola, are all either produced on a Barr-AG farm or purchased and stored (from Canadian Farmers) and then exported Internationally.

Canadian Grains Grains-1

Barr-Ag and our local network of Canadian Farm Producers all follow our growing protocols and adhere to our quality control standards. All of our grains, oil seeds and pulse crops are non-GMO.

CONTACT US to inquire about purchasing Canadian grain and availability.

 

Sources:
http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?nid=913119
http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?nid=702119,
http://www.grainscanada.gc.ca/quality-qualite/gs-sg-eng.htm
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U.S. Alfalfa Hay Exports Contaminated

LocationChina

China has rejected alfalfa hay from the United States due to genetically modified forage contamination. Hay exported from our southern neighbours is in quarantine after detection of GMO traits showed up.

Cross contamination from nearby fields growing Roundup Ready alfalfa, developed by Forage Genetics International for Monsanto Co., is the culprit. This genetically modified alfalfa hay was deregulated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 2011 and caused a lot of controversy. Many feared it would have a negative effect on the export of forage products from North America as the international marketplace does not want genetically modified hay.

All imports to China are supposed to be GMO-free. This could cause China to avoid purchasing US grown hay entirely as they are not interested in feeding their livestock RoundUp Ready. Fortunately, the Western Canadian production of GMO-free alfalfa hay is still safe and free of all RoundUp Ready traits. Customers from overseas can be confident that the GMO-free alfalfa hay from Canadian growers like Barr-Ag has no trace of genetic modifications or any traits that come with it.

A spokesperson from the USDA stated that the organization has been working with authorities and U.S. alfalfa growers to find out why imported hay is coming up with GM traits after being through China’s genetically engineered testing. They want to find out why this ‘certified’ forage came up positive for GM traits and come to an agreement.

“The current threshold of acceptance is 5% GMO by Chinese importers, but this could be tightened to 0.2%, and growers would be hard pressed to meet these standards with unintended cross-pollination along with the shady practices of GM companies who often grow ‘test’ fields of GM crops without regulatory approval.” – Natural Society article

China refused shipments of U.S. grown corn this past summer. The Chinese were concerned that the product contained a genetically modified strain call MIR 162. According to an article from Farm Futures the corn did indeed contain large traces MIR 162. The rejection of this corn cost at least $1 billion to the export economy.

It seems that China has no problem rejecting GM products from the United States. In fact, they even incinerated 3 massive shipments of GM produce from the United States. A passionate journalist shares his thoughts on China vs. Monsanto in this article.

Barr-Ag is proud to offer pure GMO-free alfalfa hay and other products that are far from potential contamination. Learn more about our Canadian grown alfalfa hay.

Alfalfa-Hay

 

 

Sources:

http://hayandforage.com/alfalfa/alfalfa-rejected-export-gmo-contaminated

http://farmfutures.com/story-ngfa-chinas-mir-162-rejection-has-significant-impact-grain-sector-0-111508

http://naturalsociety.com/gm-alfalfa-found-hay-exports-china/

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