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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, I’m in central Alberta, 45 minutes west of Edmonton. We seeded our first hay field ever with

a 65% alfalfa, 25% orchardgraaa 10% Timothy blend, at roughly 18lbs to the acre on May 19th. We fertilized at 300lbs an acre of 21-31-26-18 as per the soil tests and the field was in canola last year. The hay we are growing is going to be for feeding beef cattle.

I’ve attached a picture of the growth on June 10th you can see a good start to the grasses, some alfalfa coming up, but also some volunteer canola, which was expected. Well in the last 7 days we’ve received over 2 inches of rain and the volunteer canola exploded. Which is the second picture.
Here’s my question:
Do we need to be concerned of the canola choking out the alfalfa and grass that we actually want, or will it still grow under canopy of the canola?
Second, we were planning on cutting in mid August so we could have adequate re-growth prior to the first frost in mid-September, will all of the canola ruin our hay? Or is there something different we should be doing? Anything I’ve read says Canola has excellent nutrition comparable to alfalfa, however it needs to be less than 50% of the diet to avoid issues.

We have a TONNE (TON) of money into this field and I’m not going to lie it’s really disheartening to see the canola taking over.

thoughts and advice are appreciated!
Joe
June 10
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I have had autumn sown Lucerne choked out by a mass of cape weed (daisies ) after cutting the cape weed, baling it and removing it the Lucerne was fine. Never missed a beat. It's tougher than you give it credit for.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I have had autumn sown Lucerne choked out by a mass of cape weed (daisies ) after cutting the cape weed, baling it and removing it the Lucerne was fine. Never missed a beat. It's tougher than you give it credit for.
well that’s reassuring. So we’re likely getting concerned for for no reason? When that happenedto you did you have to worry about cutting earlier than you normally would to make sure it made more palatable hay?
 

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No. Cut same time I always would for a first cut silage. Waited till the weeds had flowered so there would be minimal regrowth. You could either do the same or talk to an agronomist for the best chemical to take out the canola now.
 

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I sometimes clip it off if weeds are getting way ahead of the seeding.
These days of high fuel costs I think I would leave it be.
I have never grown canola but i bet beef cows would have no problem with it
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
The problem here is anything we spray on the field to clear canola would kill everything else too. So we’d be back at square one. The nice thing is there isn’t a single weed in the field aside from the volunteer canola.
From what I’ve read cows should be OK to eat and the oils from it will make them silky smooth.
My biggest concern is that the grass and alfalfa will still come up underneath the thick canopy that the canola makes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
That makes me feel much better about it. With the price of seed and fertilizer this year I didn’t want it to end up a lost cause and back at square one.
We’ve got over 3 inches of rain in the past 5 days with more on the way. Hopefully by mid-
august we should have a really nice field to cut after having dealt with a crazy drought last year
 

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Canola makes handy hay if you have the weather to dry it down properly. (and if you put it through a conditioner to crack the stems. Stalks are very sharp though, so I prefer to feed it back through the mixerwagon and add water as its being chopped. This helps soften the stalks and has the added benefit of stopping all the leaf and flower turning to dust.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Canola makes handy hay if you have the weather to dry it down properly. (and if you put it through a conditioner to crack the stems. Stalks are very sharp though, so I prefer to feed it back through the mixerwagon and add water as its being chopped. This helps soften the stalks and has the added benefit of stopping all the leaf and flower turning to dust.
That is good to know. It will definitely be going through the conditioner. From the reading I’ve done it needs to be conditioned fairly aggressively for the dry down like you say. Thankfully come August we usually have pretty good weather for dry down. I’m assuming it would probably be best to get the canola a little earlier before it starts dropping leaves to avoid it going really tough?
 

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Your going to want to cut that before mid August. Likely late July when the canola is in bloom, you want to get that canola cut and removed so the hay has a fighting chance. I had the same problem 2 years ago but I planted a cover crop of oats. And once you cut don't bother trying to bale it for 2 weeks and get a feed test too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Your going to want to cut that before mid August. Likely late July when the canola is in bloom, you want to get that canola cut and removed so the hay has a fighting chance. I had the same problem 2 years ago but I planted a cover crop of oats. And once you cut don't bother trying to bale it for 2 weeks and get a feed test too.
We are for sure Getting a feed test done. Hopefully the alfalfa and grasses come up underneath so we can at least have a blend in the feed.
Where in Canada are you located? Is the canola that hard to dry down even after conditioning?
 

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20 mins west of Red Deer. If you leave the canola that late you will lose the feed value in it, and also really suffocate the hay that is trying to get established. Canola is really slow to dry down. If you cut it early enough then you might get a good second cut on the hay after the killing frost in the fall.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Nice, so you are only a couple hours from me. Hopefully it all turns out good.

I’m going to make a trip out tomorrow and see how the field looks. But I think weather permitting I’ll be aiming for that last week of July or first week of august to caych the canola at a good stage.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
20 mins west of Red Deer. If you leave the canola that late you will lose the feed value in it, and also really suffocate the hay that is trying to get established. Canola is really slow to dry down. If you cut it early enough then you might get a good second cut on the hay after the killing frost in the fall.
Well… I went out to the field today to take a look at what’s happening and it’s a disaster. There is no alfalfa or grasses to be seen. The canola is stunted and it looks like horsetail is taking over the field. I have a call into the agronomist on Monday but I’m. It sure what my options are at this point. I don’t know if I can get someone in to spray it out and seed in oats or barley for green feed so we can still get feed this year, and start from square one next year or what is going to happen.
It also doesn’t help that the taps have not turned off here and we’ve gotten just over 5 inches of rain the last 30 days.
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