Hay crop one of the worst in over two decades

·2 min read

The quantity and quality of feed available for livestock could be impacted by an abnormal amount of rain through July.

Farmers are falling behind in their harvest.

“It’s the worst season I can remember,” said Danny MacDonald who runs a small dairy farm in East Point.

He harvests hay for his herd but also sells bales to beef farmers and horse owners.

“I can remember bad seasons back in the 1980s but not this bad,” he said.

He has baled about 30 to 50 per cent of the hay he would usually have harvested by this time.

“I’m usually done by July 25th but here I am August 9th not half done,” he said.

This July, completely sunny days have been few and far between.

According to Environment Canada historical weather data, the Charlottetown weather station recorded 134.1mm of precipitation this July compared to the normal of 74.1mm. It was the 10th wettest July in Charlottetown on record, since 1879.

The Summerside station recorded 157.3mm compared to the normal 74mm, making it the third largest amount of rain in July on record since 1898.

Mr MacDonald says the wet July won’t cause an issue for his dairy cattle which mostly eat silage made from an early first cut of hay which he harvested without trouble in June.

Beef cattle, horses and other livestock that eat dry hay are more likely to take the brunt of lower quality hay or a slight dip in inventory.

“I’ve already noticed more horse people calling looking for hay than normal,” Mr MacDonald said.

Melaney Matheson of Springwater Farm in Albion Cross grows and harvests about 12,000 to 15,000 square bales of hay each year.

She has not seen worse conditions in the 25 years her family has been running the operation.

“It’s been poor,” she said.

She estimated she has only harvested a quarter of the amount she would usually have baled by this time.

The harvest at Springwater Farm goes to the resident sheep, and the majority is sold to other livestock farmers including a number of horse owners.

Ms Matheson only caught four good baling days in July. Typically there are 10 to 15 suitable days in the same month.

She hopes to continue harvesting late, through August to compensate for the slow start.

Her biggest concern right now is the quality.

She has noticed the hay is seedier and more brown compared to top quality, fresh green hay.

“Animals eating it might need more supplemental feed than usual,” she said.

Both farmers are already wishing for a better season next year.

Rachel Collier, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Graphic

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting