Original Published on Aug 17, 2022 at 07:21
By Rachel Collier, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Farmers Island-wide are cutting healthy and plentiful hay crops this season. Top-notch conditions will help offset feed costs for livestock but farmers harvesting to sell have to balance out dramatic increases in fuel and fertilizer costs.
“It’s been a great year when it comes to quantity and quality,” Joel Irving of Vernon River said. He harvests and sells about 20,000 bales of hay per year mostly to horse owners.
“When you pick it up in your hands you can tell, it’s a good crop,” he said, “But the cost of fertilizer and fuel have gone up.”
Last year Mr Irving paid about $600 for a ton of fertilizer. This year he forked out closer to $1,200 per ton. Not all fields need fertilizer, but fuel costs are unavoidable.
In return Mr Irving doesn’t expect the price of hay to increase in line with production costs.
“You can’t do that to people,” Mr Irving said. He knows a significant increase in price would be problematic for horse owners in a tight economy and a steep price raise simply wouldn’t make sense given the state of the market.
Ron Maynard is president of the PEI Federation of Agriculture.
“There will most certainly be enough hay to go around this year, there is no shortage,” he said.
Some farmers are still holding surplus from last year and others are deciding not to bother mowing a second cut given the volume of quality hay produced from the first cutting and the high supply vs demand and production costs.
PEI has shipped surplus hay across the country in previous years. Provinces Canada-wide are generally well positioned this year to meet if not surpass demand, Mr Maynard said.
Southwestern Ontario’s hay crops are impacted by drought and wet weather is hampering harvesting efforts in specific Manitoba zones but these issues are marginal and likely won’t require assistance from Maritime provinces, he said.
“The season has been fantastic,” Logan Bryanton of Belmont, in western PEI, said. “Just the right amount of sunshine and rain.”
Mr Bryanton grows about 350 to 400 acres of alfalfa and regular hay which he later ferments into silage to feed about 200 milking cows.
“It will offset the input costs for other feed like soybeans,” he explained.
While the weather has been a bit wetter early in August compared to late July, Mr Bryanton hasn’t had an issue finding a dry window to harvest.
George Matheson of Albion Cross tells a similar story.
“It has been wonderful,” he said.
Mr Matheson grows about 100 acres, sells about half to horse owners and feeds the rest to his 65 sheep and their lambs as well as a few other animals on his farm.
“There was lots of rain then nice dry weather at the end of July so we could bale it dry,” he said.
This item reprinted with permission from The Eastern Graphic, Montague, Prince Edward Island