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2020 Forage Seasonal Summary

Much of the province had a mild winter, with average amounts of precipitation. Areas of Chatham-Kent, Lambton, Huron, Grey, Bruce, Timiskaming, Cochrane, Rainy River, and Kenora received below-average winter precipitation.
 
Forages broke dormancy early in much of the province, with green-up starting in mid-March in the southwest. Overall, reports of winterkill were normal or below-normal levels, except in Prescott & Russell, where high amounts of alfalfa winterkill occurred. Alfalfa snout beetle could be a contributing factor in these winterkill reports as it is known to be present in these two counties, as well as in fields in neighbouring counties in eastern Ontario. Alfalfa snout beetle larvae girdle the taproot, often completely severing the root. Signs of injury are apparent in late fall but can go unnoticed and be reported as winterkill the next spring.
 
Hay and Haylage
 
Planting intentions were up compared to 2019, in response to previous year’s winterkill issues. Much of southwestern, central and eastern Ontario new seeding was planted by the end of April due to early snow melt and average or below-average rainfall.
 
Despite early green-up, cool conditions persisted until late May, which reduced GDD accumulation and slowed forage growth. Yields varied across the province, with earlier-cut fields generally yielding lower than expected. First cut on dairy farms was fully underway by the first week of June in the southwest and the northwest, and by the second week of June in central, eastern, and northeastern Ontario.
 
For second and subsequent cuts, yield reports reflected rainfall patterns. Potato leafhopper pressure was high in these stunted crops as “hopperburn” reduced yields in affected fields. Increased rainfall in much of the province for August increased disease pressure in alfalfa, which could affect crop yields and persistence.
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