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Saskatchewan farmers face hay shortage

Saskatchewan farmers face hay shortage

Weather challenges resulted in low yields for the second year in a row

By Michelle Jones

Producers across southern Saskatchewan are experiencing low hay yields, which is leaving some farmers without much feed for the winter.

Greg Kistner, who farms in the Bethune, Sask. area, grows and sells hay. Hail was a big problem for crops this year, he said.

“We had some hail come through, which damaged a lot of crops in the area. And the shelf cloud that came over Craven, (Sask.) in July was really bad,” he said.

Luckily, Kistner wasn’t too affected by the stormy weather conditions that plagued Saskatchewan this summer. Other farmers weren’t as fortunate.

Because of the crop damage from hail and several severe thunderstorms over the summer, we will see lower hay yields again this year .

Hay producers are averaging around a half a bale per acre this year, which is down considerably from previous years, Kistner estimated.

Most farmers try to have at least a year’s worth of feed to cover a bad year, but the weather conditions over the last two years have made this common strategy a challenge.

In the spring, farmers experienced a hay shortage, so they were really depending on a good growing season.

“Unfortunately, we’ve had two dry growing seasons, so a lot of cattle-only farmers are out of feed and are being forced to sell. No cattle means no income, so they don’t have a choice but to close down their operations,” Kistner said.

“Farming is hard on the nerves. It’s a ‘next year’ type of job. You have to look to next year and hope for a better growing season.”

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