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21.3 million "Bale-Out" for Québec Hay Producers

The Financière agricole du Québec will provide accelerated assistance of $ 21.3 million to quickly support more than 4,000 hay producers who have been hit hard by a historic drought that has caused the price of hay bales to explode.

Due to a precipitation deficit of 25% to 75% compared to normal for May and June, the first hay cut was said to have been "catastrophic" throughout Quebec.

The Union des producteurs agricoles, Financière agricole and the Ministry of Agriculture have therefore formed a crisis unit in conjunction with it's hay and pasture crop insurance program.

The situation is particularly alarming this year, because all regions of Quebec, especially in the St. Lawrence Valley, have been affected in one way or another by an early drought.

Rainfall amounts were unusually low in May and June: almost all areas received half the usual precipitation.

The cultivation of hay - which is made up of clover, alfalfa and grasses - is the largest in Quebec in terms of area.

When the first hay mowing was completed, in Montérégie there was noticeably a variable yield , that was often below normal.

Forages or hay commonly refer to plants that belong to two large families: legumes (whose fruit is a pod, such as alfalfa and clover) and grasses (with spikelets such as fescue, ryegrass, bromegrass hay, millet).

It is recommended that legume plants be harvested at the beginning of the flowering stage and that grasses be harvested at the beginning of the heading stage.

There is usually about a two-week "window" of time in which grass is at its ideal stage for harvesting hay.

A high drying index created good conditions for carrying out the work, but a difficult regrowth was sustained in many areas of Québec due to lack of adequate precipitation.

Growing quality hay requires a combination of weed-free fields and good weather.

Long days, cool weather and well-distributed precipitation are essential for the harvest of a superior quality, palatable hay.

One of the keys to growing quality hay is harvesting it at the appropriate time, before the seeds of grass hay mature and before legume plants bloom.

Once the hay begins to mature, the amount of nutrients can diminish quickly, leading to lower-quality hay that is less nutritious.

In addition, grass hay cut too early will not cure as easily due to high moisture content, plus it will produce a lower yield per acre than longer, more mature grass.

Many dairy farmers and beef, veal and lamb producers produce their own hay in order to be self-sufficient.

However, this year, it is going to be difficult in harvesting enough to achieve habitual self sufficiency.

These farmers must therefore turn to large hay producers or neighbors.

The scarcity of fodder can affect everyone.

La Financière agricole has thus far recorded 2,488 notices of damage to hay producers since the start of the year, compared to 209 at the same date last year.

According to the UPA and an article written in today's in LaPresse, a bale of hay is currently flowing at a price ranging between $ 80 and $ 120.

This is not the first time that Quebec has been hit by a hay shortage.

In 2018, the province experienced its hottest summer in 146 years, causing catastrophic droughts, particularly in the Bas-Saint-Laurent, Gaspésie and Saguenay – Lac-Saint-Jean.

The early drought has also greatly affected the average market type gardening sector.

Carrots, turnips, beets, radishes have also affected crops because of the drought:

A survey conducted in mid-July by the Association des producteurs maraîchers du Québec among 24 root vegetable and onion producers revealed that the majority of them are already reporting lower yields.


Le Conseil québécois des plantes fourragères (CQPF)

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