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Quality Time With Joel

by Joel Bagg, Forage Development Specialist & District Sales Manager, Quality Seeds Ltd

 

The season so far has been challenging for many farmers that rely on producing forage. The frequent rains have been quite unrelenting. Saturated soils and even flooding has occurred. Considerable quality hayage and baleage has been made, but making quality dry hay without rain-damage or mould has been challenging. Much of the first-cut dry hay making was delayed with advanced maturity.

While the forage stands are quite variable, some of it looks “tough”. Severe potato leafhopper damage, with reduced growth as well as stunting of new

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Fall Cutting Alfalfa

by Joel Bagg, Forage Development Specialist & District Sales Manager, Quality Seeds Ltd

With reduced forage yields and inventories as a result of this year’s drought, many farmers will cut alfalfa this fall because they need the feed. While cutting alfalfa in the fall is often practiced in Ontario, it does sometimes create some additional risk to stand health, depending on the location, stand age, harvest frequency and many other factors. The decision whether to cut alfalfa should weigh these factors and the immediate need for forage against the increased risk of winterkill and reduced yields the following year. Many

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Summer Seeding Oats & Oat-Pea Mixtures For Extra Forage

by Joel Bagg, Forage Development Specialist & District Sales Manager, Quality Seeds Ltd

Summer seeding annual forages can be a useful low-cost option for producing extra feed, either as an emergency forage or a regular double-crop option. These forages include QS “Evolution” Italian ryegrass, cool-season cereals (oats, barley, triticale) and cereal-pea mixtures, as well as some warm-season sorghums, sorghum-sudangrass and millets (pearl, Japanese), but some are more successful than others. Record acreages of these emergency annual forages were seeded in the drought year of 2012, and provided farmers with a “big save” in meeting their forage needs. Yields and nutrient

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Potato Leafhopper In Alfalfa

by Joel Bagg, Forage Development Specialist & District Sales Manager, Quality Seeds Ltd

 

Potato leafhopper (PLH) is the most damaging alfalfa insect pest in Ontario. While the damage created is not as dramatic as an alfalfa weevil outbreak, leafhopper damage is more chronic and widespread. Hot, dry weather is high risk. Damage is most severe in new seedings and young regrowth. Many farmers are unaware of the significance of PLH damage, which is often blamed on the hot, dry weather that frequently accompanies it. New alfalfa seeding establishment is particularly affected, permanently damaging the plants for the life of

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Sulphur On Alfalfa

by Joel Bagg, Forage Development Specialist & District Sales Manager, Quality Seeds Ltd

There is beginning to be some significant yield responses in Ontario when applying sulphur (S) to alfalfa. In field trials, the yield response observed to applied S has sometimes been dramatic, while in others there is no response. Tissue sampling of alfalfa is a useful diagnostic tool in predicting whether there will be an economic response to applying S.

Sulphur (S) received from atmospheric sulphur dioxide emissions (acid rain) has steadily declined by over 50% during the last 25 years. S deficiencies have also increased due to

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“Evolution” Italian Ryegrass Forage Options

by Joel Bagg, Forage Development Specialist & District Sales Manager, Quality Seeds Ltd

Evolution Italian ryegrass can produce very high quality, leafy, palatable forage suitable for high producing dairy cows. As a cool-season bunch grass, Italian ryegrass is best adapted to cool, moist conditions. It does not grow as well in hot, dry summer weather. In Ontario it has been seeded in early spring (April, early-May) for harvesting that year. More recently, it has been seeded in August for harvest in late-fall and then again during the following year. This can provide an excellent double-crop option, but the risk of

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Summer Seeding Alfalfa

by Joel Bagg, Forage Development Specialist & District Sales Manager, Quality Seeds Ltd

Summer seeding alfalfa and alfalfa-grass mixtures can be a good way to establish new fields so that full season yields can be harvested the following year. It is typically done after winter wheat or spring cereals are harvested, and also during years when alfalfa winterkill necessitates the quick establishment of new stands. Summer seeding of alfalfa forage mixtures can be a viable alternative to spring seeding.

The most reliable time to seed forages is usually in the spring. With an April or early-May seeding, moisture is usually

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Alfalfa Weevil

by Joel Bagg, Forage Development Specialist & District Sales Manager, Quality Seeds Ltd

 

The amount of alfalfa weevil damage being reported this spring is unusually high. Occuring much later than normal, it is being seen in standing first-cut, but also more notably in 2nd- cut regrowth. Scout your fields. If larvae are above threshold levels and are still healthy and active, spraying may be warranted to prevent further damage.

 

Alfalfa weevil can often be an issue in Ontario, particularly in south-western parts of the province. While outbreaks tend to be isolated, they can be severe and

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by Joel Bagg, Forage Development Specialist & District Sales Manager, Quality Seeds Ltd

Alfalfa frost damage can sometimes occur in the spring after growth has started, resulting in damaged growing points. Some wilting can be visible about 24 hours after frost or some yellowish or brownish discolouration 3 or 4 days later. The top of the stems will typically bend over with a “shepherd’s hook”. Damage is often minimal and plants will grow out of it, but some yield loss and development delay can result. Thin alfalfa stands are more susceptible to frost damage.

“Light Frost” Damage

The extent of frost

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Forage Update – May 4, 2017

by Joel Bagg, Forage Development Specialist & District Sales Manager, Quality Seeds Ltd

Forage crops in Ontario generally over-wintered well, but there are scattered reports of some alfalfa winter injury, winterkill, and alfalfa heaving. Some thin stands have been observed in the higher risk area of the Ottawa Valley. Alfalfa winter injury does not necessarily kill alfalfa plants, new crown buds have to be formed, resulting in uneven growth and reduced yields. Some fields harvested in the fall are showing delayed green-up and growth this spring.

Wet weather has delayed new forage seedings, and although some farmers are finished many

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Don’t Lose Forage Yield To Poor P and K Fertility

by Joel Bagg, Forage Development Specialist & District Sales Manager, Quality Seeds Ltd

With higher land costs, tighter forage inventories and stronger hay prices, increasing yield is becoming key to reducing our cost of producing forage. Three factors limiting our forage yields are old stands, poor establishment and low soil fertility. Good soil fertility is essential to both yield and persistence of forage crops. Phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) fertility management is often overlooked, but is fundamental to producing forage to feed livestock and being competitive in today’s forage market. Fertilizer prices are currently lower than they have been in

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Frost Heaving of Alfalfa

by Joel Bagg, Forage Development Specialist & District Sales Manager, Quality Seeds Ltd

 

Frost heaving can significantly damage alfalfa plants, leaving stands with much less yield potential. Plants may initially appear undamaged, but taproots are typically broken and unable to pick up enough nutrients or moisture, and stands eventually die.

Frost heaving of alfalfa happens when repeated freezing and thawing pushes the tap root and crown out of the soil. Heaving occurs through-out the winter season heave cycle (similar to fence posts), as well as resulting from the “jacking” action of the spring freeze-thaw cycles.

 

Risk Factors

Factors

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Improved Dairy Alfalfa-Grass Mixtures

by Joel Bagg, Forage Development Specialist & District Sales Manager, Quality Seeds Ltd

Suitable grass species and varieties can offer significant advantages when included in alfalfa-grass mixtures for dairy cows as haylage, baleage or dry hay. These advantages include nutritional improvements in fibre digestibility, increased intake and higher milk production, as well as agronomic and harvest advantages. There is currently a great deal of interest by dairy producers to include newer grasses in alfalfa-grass mixtures, and a move away from the use of timothy. Improved Quality Seeds varieties of orchardgrass (Dividend VL), tall fescue (Cowgirl), meadow fescue (Pardus), festulolium (Lofa),

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Quality Seeds Launches Low Lignin Non-Transgenic Alfalfa Variety “Boost HG”

 

News Release – September 12, 2016

Quality Seeds Ltd is excited to announce the launch of its newest alfalfa variety “Boost HG”. Boost HG is a non-transgenic low lignin alfalfa that was developed by conventional plant breeding using Hi-Gest® Low Lignin Technology.

Boost HG has improved fibre digestibility and forage quality through a significant reduction in whole plant lignin. This low lignin trait increases digestible energy and animal intake for more milk / meat produced. The 7-10% reduction in lignin increases the extent of fiber digestion by 5-10%, and also increases the rate of fiber digestion which can

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Forage Options Following Wheat

by Joel Bagg, Forage Development Specialist & District Sales Manager, Quality Seeds Ltd

 

With low first- and second-cut yields in many parts of Ontario due to dry weather, there is much interest in following winter wheat and other cereals with a forage crop to help supplement forage inventories. Not only can this approach produce some extra feed, it also provides cover crop benefits. There are a few double-crop forage options that can provide some cheaper, good quality haylage or baleage. These options worked very well in a very dry 2012. Summer seeding alfalfa rather than waiting until next spring can provide the benefit of

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Boron Deficiency In Alfalfa

Joel Bagg, Forage Development Specialist & District Sales Manager, Quality Seeds Ltd

 

Boron deficiency in alfalfa is characterized by a yellowing or reddening of the upper leaves of the plant, and is sometimes referred to as “yellow top”. Boron does not translocate within the plant so newer growth on the top of the plant is yellow, while older lower leaves will stay green. The field, or patches in the field, assume a bronze color. (Figures 1 & 2) Stem growth between leaves becomes shortened, giving plants a stunted, bunchy appearance. Alfalfa growth can be severely stunted with reduced yield,

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Joel Bagg, Forage Development Specialist & District Sales Manager, Quality Seeds Ltd

 

Dry weather has significantly reduced forage regrowth and second-cut yields in most parts of the province. Many dairy farmers are off schedule for their normal 4-cut system. There is some growing concern over having adequate forage inventories to meet livestock needs, with consideration of alternate forage options following winter wheat and other cereals. Many drought-stressed fields are also showing symptoms of boron and sulphur deficiencies, and some potato leafhopper damage. Be careful not to overgraze drought-stressed pastures because it will significantly reduce total seasonal pasture yields. Although

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Forage Update – June 2, 2016

by Joel Bagg, Forage Development Specialist & District Sales Manager, Quality Seeds Ltd

 

First-cut dairy haylage was in full swing the last week of May and some farms are finished. Although some areas in western Ontario have received adequate rainfall, many areas in central and eastern Ontario have been very dry this spring. This has limited forage growth, particularly grassier fields and older alfalfa stands that were winter injured or fall harvested. Forage yields are quite variable with some excellent yields but many below normal depending on location, the stand and management. Cooler than normal spring temperatures significantly slowed

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by Joel Bagg, Forage Development Specialist & District Sales Manager, Quality Seeds Ltd

 

Forage growth is extremely variable. Cooler spring weather significantly slowed the accumulation of Growing Degree Days (GDD) and has delayed the growth and maturity of alfalfa. Soil moisture levels are variable across the province. Many areas with little rain are dry and have shorter than normal stands. Alfalfa maturity is more affected by reduced GDDs, but grass growth is more affected by the dry weather. Forecasted warmer temperatures and rainfall this week should speed growth and development quickly. Many alfalfa stands harvested last fall are showing

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Forage Update – May 13, 2016

by Joel Bagg, Forage Development Specialist & District Sales Manager, Quality Seeds Ltd

 

Forage crop growth and development has been delayed somewhat by cool and dry weather, but should advance quickly with forecasted rain and warmer temperatures.Cool weather favours the growth and development of grasses more than alfalfa. Typically, this results in a greater proportion of grass in alfalfa mixtures, with more advanced grass maturity relative to the alfalfa. Early maturing orchard grass varieties are close to heading in some parts of the province. Older, less healthy alfalfa stands are beginning to become yellow with dandelions. Some fields

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Forage Update – May 3, 2016

by Joel Bagg, Forage Development Specialist & District Sales Manager, Quality Seeds Ltd

 

New forage seedings are underway as weather permits, and some farmers are finished. Alfalfa and other forage species have generally over-wintered very well. There are only scattered reports of alfalfa winterkill, winter injury and alfalfa heaving, mostly on older stands. Minimal winterkill issues (<10%) have been reported in the normally higher risk area of the Ottawa Valley. There has been some alfalfa winter injury in fields that broke dormancy in December and early spring. While this does not necessarily kill alfalfa plants, new crown buds have

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Forage Update – April 21, 2016

by Joel Bagg, Forage Development Specialist & District Sales Manager, Quality Seeds Ltd

 

Forage crops in Ontario have generally over-wintered very well, but there are scattered reports of some alfalfa winterkill, winter injury and alfalfa heaving. The normally higher risk area of the Ottawa Valley seems to have minimal winterkill issues. Some alfalfa winter injury has been observed in fields that broke dormancy in December and early spring and were subsequently frozen. While this does not necessarily kill alfalfa plants, new crown buds have to be formed, resulting in uneven growth and reduced yields. Some fields harvested in late-fall

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Forage Options Following Alfalfa Winterkill

by Joel Bagg, Forage Development Specialist & District Sales Manager, Quality Seeds Ltd

It is sometimes difficult to know what to do when winterkill completely takes out your alfalfa stands, or you have a winter injured stand that is thin, patchy and unhealthy. There are many options that can be considered, depending on the calendar date, timing, urgency for feed, and forage yield and nutrient quality requirements. If winterkill is identified early enough in the spring, the best option is to simply replace the winterkilled stand by seeding a new forage stand in a new field in the crop rotation.

 

Stand Assessment

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5 Forage Establishment Mistakes To Avoid

It’s springtime and we are anxious to get on the land and get our new forage seedings in the ground. There are a few common mistakes made that limit the success of new forage seedings and future yields and quality.

1. Not Seeding New Forage Stands Often Enough

Many alfalfa-based stands are simply too old, resulting in huge losses of forage yield. Alfalfa yields are usually at their maximum during the first year or two following the establishment year and then decrease. By the third year, yields have often declined by about 15-20%, and possibly 35% by the fourth year.

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Check Alfalfa Stands This Spring and Make A Plan

by Joel Bagg, Forage Development Specialist & District Sales Manager, Quality Seeds Ltd

 

Walking fields in early spring to determine if the alfalfa stands have thinned, and assessing if plants are dead or unhealthy is a proactive strategy to determine management options. Increased risk factors for alfalfa winterkill, tight forage inventories, and high land costs make assessing spring alfalfa stand health essential. Making the decision whether to manage an existing reduced stand or replace it with a new establishment can sometimes be difficult. However, by ignoring the issue you may find yourself with a feed shortage. Don’t wait until it is too late to implement

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Red Clover Haylage

Quality Seeds “Santa Fe” For Improved Yield & Persistence

by Joel Bagg, Forage Development Specialist & District Sales Manager, Quality Seeds Ltd

Red clover haylage can be a good alternative to alfalfa in areas where alfalfa is limited by low soil pH, imperfect drainage, and where chronic alfalfa winterkill is a problem. Red clover is more tolerant of soils that are too acidic or wet for alfalfa. Under conditions where low soil pH or drainage are not issues, alfalfa will usually out-yield red clover and is the preferred forage legume species. Red clover feed quality is similar to alfalfa and

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Successful Forage Establishment

by Joel Bagg, Forage Development Specialist & District Sales Manager, Quality Seeds Ltd

A successful forage establishment is a uniform, weed free stand that will grow quickly and vigorously to provide high yields during that first year, and for the life of the stand. The most critical factors include packing a firm seedbed and proper seed placement.

Seedbed Preparation

The goals of forage seedbed preparation are to:

  • produce a fine, firm, level seedbed that allows good control of uniform seeding depth,
  • leave a well packed seedbed with good seed-to-soil contact,
  • eliminate residue that may harm establishment, and
  • produce a smooth
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Using Red Clover In Wheat To Increase Corn Yields

by Joel Bagg, Forage Development Specialist & District Sales Manager, Quality Seeds Ltd

Frost seeding red clover into winter wheat as a cover crop has proven itself to have many agronomic benefits, including improving providing nitrogen (N), soil tilth, increased soil organic matter, reduced erosion and increased yields of the corn crop following in the rotation. The N credit and increased corn yields make the economics of the simple practice easy to justify. With a projected 1.2 million acres in Ontario of wheat and tighter supplies of red clover seed, farmers should book their red clover seed early.

Agronomic Benefits

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Aphanomyces Root Rot In Alfalfa

Quality Seeds Introduces Race 2 Resistant Variety “Foundation APR”

 

Aphanomyces root rot dramatically reduces alfalfa vigour and yields. There are many slowly drained fields in Canada and the US that show symptoms of this soil-borne alfalfa disease. Aphanomyces can be managed by the use of the Race 2 resistant “Foundation APR” alfalfa variety, newly available from Quality Seeds.

Aphanomyces root rot is caused by the fungus-like pathogen Aphanomyces euteiches. Similar to phytophthora root rot (Phytophthora medicaginis), it is considered a major cause of disease in alfalfa seedlings, particularly in wet, saturated, poorly drained soil conditions.

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Fall Cutting Alfalfa

by Joel Bagg, Forage Development Specialist & District Sales Manager, Quality Seeds Ltd

While cutting alfalfa in the fall is often practiced in Ontario, it does create some risk to stand health, depending on the location, stand age, harvest frequency and other factors. The decision whether to cut alfalfa should weigh these factors and the immediate need for forage against the increased risk of winterkill and reduced yields the following year. Everyone’s situation and comfort with risk is different. When faced with forage inventory shortfalls and low agronomic risk, taking a fall cutting is understandable. In situations where forage inventories

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Some Early-August Forage Considerations

 

by Joel Bagg, Forage Development Specialist & District Sales Manager, Quality Seeds Ltd

- Summer Seeding, Repairing New Seedings, Forage Options After Wheat, Forage Fertilty -

 

Summer Seeding Alfalfa

The window for summer seeding alfalfa is approaching or soon closing depending on where you are located. Summer seeding alfalfa-grass mixtures can be a good way to establish new fields so that full season yields can be harvested the following year. The challenge following wheat is getting the volunteer wheat controlled and the new seeding done in a timely manner. Competition from volunteer wheat can be a significant problem.

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Repairing New Alfalfa Seedings

by Joel Bagg, Forage Development Specialist & District Sales Manager, Quality Seeds Ltd

There are many poor newly established alfalfa stands in Ontario this year due to multiple factors, including a very dry May following by an extremely wet June. Fields where excessive rainfall ponded on heavier textured, poorly drained soils were especially affected. Brillion seeders can work well, but drills generally work better in extreme soil conditions, such as too loose or too wet. 2015 was one of those years. Some of these fields will require reseeding or overseeding to enable an acceptable forage stand and future yields.

Too

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