Bumper year for hay in the Okanagan - InfoNews

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Bumper year for hay in the Okanagan

An alfalfa field in Kelowna that didn't quite finish it's third cut of the year before the rain started this week.
October 26, 2016 - 4:31 PM

OKANAGAN – An early spring, a wet summer and a mild fall have created the perfect conditions for field farmers in the Okanagan.

With the exception of cherries, which were threatened by an unusually wet early summer, most crops from Penticton to Vernon have grown quickly. And for hay, grass and alfalfa farmers, itt's been so fast many have been able to squeeze in an extra cutting.

“We got a huge second crop, which is unusual,” Enderby hay farmer Laurel Neufeld says. “We also got three cuts this year when we usually get two. It was an excellent year, production-wise.”

Evan Duncan owns a grass and alfalfa farm south of the Kelowna International Airport. He says it’s not entirely unusual for him to get a third cut, but the early spring has meant more time for his workers to get the crop off.

“We were probably three weeks ahead this year,” he says. “The hay is ready sooner. It gives you more time… but we’re so weather dependent. It seemed like every time the hay was ready to cut we got two weeks of rain. If the weathers not there you have to wait.”

This year has certainly been very different than 2014, when a drought created a shortage of hay and straw in the Okanagan. Farmers who didn’t irrigate scrambled to meet the demands of their regular customers. That likely won’t be a problem for the next little while, but that doesn't necessarily mean more income for the farmers.

“It’s good although the price is going to be down,” Neufeld says. “That’s supply and demand.”

When asked about the future, she says experience has taught her not to speculate.

“It’s all over the map,” Neufeld says. “You get really, really dry years and then you get a year like this with lots of showers.”

Duncan agrees.

“It’s part of being a farmer,” he says. “At least we had such a beautiful spring this year.”

To contact a reporter for this story, email Adam Proskiw or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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