Manitoba Forage & Grassland eBulletin
April 23 2015

Hello from Duncan Morrison, our Executive Director  

Greetings to all! I am excited to be sharing my first outreach to you as the MFGA's executive director. It's been an absolute whirlwind of meetings, networking, conference calls and discussions since I took the executive director reins from my very capable predecessor, Wanda McFadyen. 

   In my previous post as MFGA's Outreach Coordinator, I learned a lot from Wanda in a very short time and I am grateful to have had the opportunity of working with her. Going forward, I am tremendously proud of our MFGA staff: Chris Yuzdepski (finance) John McGregor (extension) and Denice Girdner (communications). They are a dedicated, hard-working trio, each one an expert in their respective field. I also must salute our MFGA board for their amazing work under the leadership of Jim Lintott. I feel we are on the cusp of great things at the MFGA and our staff and board are working cohesively to maximize our impact. 

   Over the next months, this space will be used to pick out some of the highlights and to profile programs we are working on. Right now, I am really excited about the Green Gold Program and the solid twenty years of "when to cut alfalfa" success it enjoys. We are very excited that the Dairy Farmers of Manitoba and the Manitoba Cooperator have both stepped up as major sponsors along with the traditional support we receive from many others, such as Central Testing Laboratories, to ensure this program continues to flourish and producers cut their alfalfa at the best time possible. As you head out into the fields, I wish you best crop success and safe times. 

Cheers, Duncan

Add a little Alfalfa to the Crop Rotation

With lower commodity prices and fertilizer prices trending higher, perennial legumes such as alfalfa may have an excellent place in cereal and oilseed crop rotations. The major benefit of adding alfalfa to your crop rotation is its ability to capture nitrogen from the air and make it available for subsequent crops. The Manitoba Soil Fertility Guide shows an N credit of up to 90 lbs in the first year after termination. 

   Alfalfa can also provide a break in the disease cycle of annual crops when used in a 2-3 year rotation, offering a good approach to breaking pest cycles such as Fusarium, blackleg or clubroot.

   Finally, because of its deep rooting habit, alfalfa can help improve soil structure and tithe, which can improve the internal drainage of heavy soils and the organic matter content of all soils. 

   If forages don't fit into your operation but you would like to reap their benefits, you might want to consider swapping land with neighbours that have a need for alfalfa in their operations. 

Read the full article.

New Forage Package for Green Gold 

Central Testing Laboratory Ltd (CTL) in Winnipeg has been involved with Green Gold since the beginning - nearly 20 years ago. There have been many changes over the years in technology, but one thing that has not changed is our commitment to provide great service and reliable results for the Manitoba and Canadian forage industry.     

   This year, CTL would like to invite more producers to get involved in the program. We have set up a specific package for Green Gold so that producers can submit their own samples to gauge their alfalfa's maturity compared to the area average. You will be able to compare your stands to help make informed decisions on how best to manage your crops. The results from your samples, with your permission, will be added to the Green Gold program to add more weight to the results currently being collected. 

   The Green Gold Package (called GGNIR) costs $20 per sample, plus GST. It includes a basic NIR (no wet chemistry) - Moisture, Protein, ADF, NDF, ADIN, ADI-CP, NDIN, NDI-CP, Starch, Lignin RFV,TDN, NFC, DE, ME, NEL, NEM, NEG Minerals: Ca, P, K, Na, NaCl (from Na), Mg. For more information about the package contact CTL at (204) 237-9128 or  

Comparing Bale Handling Systems
Options available for bale handling today are very different from those of years past when small square bales were dominant and could be handled manually or by bale throwers and bale pick-up wagons. Large, heavy round and square bales from today's bigger balers present unique handling challenges.

There are three principal types of equipment to consider for a bale handling system: skid-steer loaders, telehandlers and utility tractors. New Holland offers all of these, with sizes and attachments to accommodate any hay handling chore. The best system for a specific haying operation is dependent upon the amount of hay harvested, how much handling is necessary, and whether the hay will be fed on the farm or sold. The bale handling system must be sized adequately to meet the needs of the overall haymaking operation. To choose the system that's right for you, consider your needs for lift capacity, lift height and maneuverability and consult your New Holland dealer, the hay and forage experts.


Industry Events 
MFGA on the Move
MFGA has been 
"on the move" in April working with various organizations for the benefit of our producers:
- Held an MFGA Board meeting
- MFGA Chair Jim Lintott and Board Member Henry Nelson met with Hon. Ron Kostyshyn Manitoba Minister of Agriculture
- Worked with the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC)
- Met with AgriRisk Initiatives of AAFC regarding the Aquanty Project 
- Met with MAFRD and IISD on Grasslands Ecological Goods and Services Research
(Optimum Afalfa Harvest Date)
The first cut typically produces more forage than any other cut. Knowing the forage quality decline of an area helps develop a trend for producers to judge how the current season is shaping up and when to start the first cut on their farms. Since sampling is real-time, the effect of weather conditions on quality is accurately reflected in the results. For 2015, MFGA will again be expanding the program by inviting more forage growers to participate and submit samples from their farms. 
Producers growing alfalfa who would like to participate and those wishing to receive the timely reports should contact John McGregor at:

Spring Assessment of Alfalfa Stands

With the snow gone and the warm weather returning you have an opportunity to walk your fields, assessing them for potential problems that can help you in you're planning for the year. The first question to ask is "Did I have any winter injury to alfalfa fields?" Here are some tips for answering this question.

Slow green up. Once dormancy breaks, the field is slow to start growing since the first few inches of growth are from the carbohydrate root reserves of the plant. 

Assess whether there is uniform growth. Look over the plants and assess whether there is uniform growth from all sides of the plants. If parts of the root are injured or killed, the plant will be uneven in growth. 

New growth is uneven. If the new growth is uneven, this is a good indicator that the crowns may have had damage and the new buds have had to form in the spring.
Examine the roots.

The last and best way to diagnose winter damage is to dig plants up with a shovel - 4" to 6" deep - and examine the roots. Healthy roots are firm and white in color. Roots that have a water-soaked appearance and are a dull or gray color are most likely winter killed. If 50 percent of the root is blackened from root rot, the plant is not likely to survive the year.

CFGA Appoints new Executive Director

The Board and Staff at MFGA would like to welcome Cedric MacLeod, of Fredericton, New Brunswick, as the new Canadian Forage & Grassland Association's Executive Director. "We are very excited to have Cedric coming on as our Executive Director," says Doug Wray, CFGA Chair. "He brings a strong background in forages, and experience working in organizations to successfully advance their goals and agendas. We look forward to his leadership as we promote the forage and grassland industry and address the challenges and opportunities going forward." 

Read more about Cedric MacLeod and the knowledge he brings to the position.

Attention Industry Partners:

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This eBulletin is published by Manitoba Forage & Grassland Association (MFGA).  
Articles in this publication do not imply endorsement by MFGA. 

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