Tag Archives: alfalfa hay

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

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/

Learning About Canadian Forage

Cutting canadian forage

Canadian forage has a good reputation

Canada is the premier supplier of hay, straw and other forage domestically and internationally. According to the Canadian Forage and Grassland Association, Canada exports approximately 600,000 tonnes of forage annually. This Canadian growth forage is valued at about $150 million and is shipped primarily to the Asia and the United States. Recently, markets for Canadian forage have started to emerge in parts of Mexico and the Middle East.

The Canadian Prairies have developed a good reputation for producing high quality forage such as Timothy and Alfalfa hay. Clean air, long warm days, cool nights and soil rich in calcium and magnesium all contribute to ideal growing conditions.

In an article published in Country Guide, Glenn Friesen of Manitoba Agriculture, Food, and Rural Development commented that these growing conditions are conducive to producing forages that increase animal performance.

High Quality Forage Dairy CowsFeeding your cattle high quality forage is essential for weight gain, producing higher levels of milk, and increasing reproduction success. In the end, all of these things add up to increasing profits for the cattle producer. For Canadian forage producers, this means keeping domestic and international customers happy.

Learning About Canadian Forage

Forages are plants used to feed livestock and can include Alfalfa hay, Timothy hay, pasture and browse plants, cereals and straw. In Canada, forages are the basis of our livestock industry. They also help conserve the rich soil as they add nitrogen to the soil and crop rotations improve the overall soil structure.

Alfalfa-HayAlfalfa hay is considered the one of the best quality forages available in the market and it is the most widely grown in Canada. Farmers from Asia and the United States purchase Canadian alfalfa for their dairy cattle and horses. It will grow under most conditions, can be adapted to many different climatic regions and does especially well in Western Canada.

The quality of the forage is dependent on the following factors:

  • Management of the soil
  • Nutrient composition
  • Seeding rates
  • Timing of cutting, raking and baling
  • Storage of the forage

Young forage is higher in protein and energy that older flowering forage, which is why cutting it at the right time is crucial to its quality.

Purchasing Canadian Forage

Barr-Ag Hay & Grain Exporters are positioned near the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, a location that provides a pristine environment for growing quality hay and other forages.  Among our most sought after products are Timothy hay, alfalfa hay, mixed hay, oaten hay, sweet hay, as well as various straws and our Canadian Grain Exports.

Unlike crops grown in countries with longer growing seasons and milder climates, our harsh Canadian winters help us to raise our hay crops using more natural methods. There is little to no need for pesticides and herbicides because prolonged cold weather acts as a natural pesticide and herbicide.

Because of the shorter growing season we get 1 or 2 cuttings in a season thereby giving the land ample time to rest and rejuvenate without excessive use of fertilizers. The availability of high quality hay, forage and grain, as well as Barr-Ag’s crop production methods are two reasons our customers have sought us out and helped make us Canada’s leading exporter of hay and forage.

To purchase Canadian forage contact Barr-Ag today!

Sources: http://www.country-guide.ca/2014/03/25/putting-prairie-forages-on-americas-stage/43638/

http://www.agr.gc.ca/eng/industry-markets-and-trade/statistics-and-market-information/by-product-sector/crops/pulses-and-special-crops-canadian-industry/forage/?id=1174594338500