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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

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.

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.

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

Canadian Hay Certification Program

Canadian HayCanadian hay that is exported to international markets goes through the Canadian Hay Certification Program (CHCP).  This allows approved facilities like Barr-Ag to export Canadian hay that meets requirements for foreign phytosanitary import and is issued a Phytosanitary Certificate.

A Phytosanitary Certificate ensures that the hay has been inspected according to the required procedures and makes sure the product is free from quarantine pests, practically free from injurious pests and conforms to the regulations of the importing country.

In the 1980’s the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) teamed up with the Canadian hay industry to develop the CHCP.  The market for exporting Canadian hay was experiencing considerable growth and there was a need for phytosanitary certification to ensure quality control as more and more compressed, baled hay was being exported from Canada to international markets.

Approved processors and exporters of Canadian hay must go through the CHCP and meet the specific phytosanitary import requirements of each importing country.  To be approved as a certified hay processing facility, a facility must apply to the CFIA with a quality management system in place.

Quality Management System

The CHCP requires processing facilities like Barr-Ag to create and execute a Quality Management System.  This system includes, but is not limited to:

  • Creating a Quality Management System Manual outlining specific quality management procedures that must be followed.
  • Employee training program
  • Quality control protocol
  • Hay examination
  • Audit procedures

A proper Quality Management System will make certain that the product imported from a Canadian hay processing facility meets phytosanitary standards and follows required regulations throughout the processing procedures including quality control, storage, and shipping.

Canadian Hay Eligible for Certification

The following Canadian hay forages are eligible for certification:

If you are looking to purchase a different species of hay from Canada, the CFIA must verify the acceptability of the species to the importing country.

Review the Canadian Hay Certification Program Standards

International importers of Canadian hay are able to review the minimum standards that must be met by all approved processing facilities in Canada.  Documentation is available that outlines proper quality management systems, the process of conducting hay examinations for the purpose of CFIA certification, and administrative activities required of them by the CHCP.

Review the Canadian Hay Certification Program documents.

Barr-Ag processing facility in Arrowwood, AB.

Barr-Ag’s processing facility in Arrowwood, AB.

Quality Control – Canada’s Leading Exporter of Hay & Forage

At Barr-Ag, we keep a close watch on every aspect of our production, from growing conditions and harvest through to storage, processing and shipping.  Barr-Ag is approved by the CFIA and Phytosanitary Certificates are issued.

Barr-Ag is only as successful as our customer satisfaction; our customers have helped make us Canada’s leading exporter of hay and forage.

Contact Barr-Ag if you have specific questions about our hay and forage or want to place an order.

Sources:  

http://www.inspection.gc.ca/plants/exports/phytosanitary-certificates/eng/1299872808479/1299872974262

http://www.inspection.gc.ca/eng/1297964599443/1297965645317