BC Forage Council

BC Forage Council
Manager:   Serena Black, BJ, MSc
Mailing address:  
1595 Fifth Avenue, Prince George, BC, V2L 3L9

Email: bcfc@bcforagecouncil.com
Phone: 250-564-4115 loc 233
Website:    www.bcforagecouncil.ca.

Board of Directors & Contacts

2017 Membership Form - Thank you for supporting forage research in BC.

2017 Sponsorship Form - NEW OPPORTUNITY!


front cover

Full 68 page pdf Manual (click on cover image above)


Case Studies

  • Detailed Measurements Show What Your Eyes Can't See
  • Testing an Idea Before Betting the Farm on It
  • Using Science To Guide Decision-Making
  • Even Inconclusive Forage Trial Findings Offer Benefits

Climate Data Report: "Climate Change - The Need for Adaptation"
Climate Change - The need for adaptation
Water - Critically Scarce
Introduction to the  Weather Stations
Prince George Climate
Results from Weather Stations
Results by Station

  • Carmen Hill
  • Braeside
  • Fraser Lake
  • Southbend

Recommendations for Producers

Although 1 year of data is not enough to develop concrete recommendations for producers in the Vanderhoof area, if the climate patterns recored in 2016 continue there will need to be changes to cropping systms in order to remain competitive.  Some operational options and future research considerations for producer are listed below:

  • To preserve protein values and avoid hay spoilage during July rain events, producers may need to invest in silage equipment. 

  • In general winter injury and summer drought are factors that may be a ecting alfalfa growth. Producers could try alfalfa varieties that are frost and drought hardy; as well, they should also be looking towards other forage species that may be better suited to the new weather conditions, or have wider climatic tolerances. 

  •  Producers could consider planting a mix of alfalfa varieties to ensure a more diverse plant community. In general diverse communities are more resilient than simplified communities. 

  • Producers with irrigation capacity could use soil moisture monitoring equipment to target irrigation with plant demands. 

  • Producers could experiment with management techniques that increase soil organic matter, which in turn benefits soil moisture availability. 

  • Producers could experiment with modifying the critical harvest period in the fall. In order to ensure adequate carbohydrate accumulation the final harvest date is typically 4-6 weeks before the first killing frost. Producers may need to expand the critical harvest period in order 
to reduce winter injury and promote vigorous spring regrowth. 

  • If reduced snow is the new climatic norm, producers could experiment with leaving more than the recommended 15 cm fall stubble. Higher stubble 
heights might translate into better snow catchment for soil insulation. 
Implementation of more climate change adaptation research is desperately needed, not just in Vanderhoof, but Nationally and Internationally. The effects of climate change are unlikely be mitigated; therefore, producers need to research alternative practices in order to succeed under changing climatic conditions. 


 Manager's Report

AGM September 17, 2016 - MINUTES

  • 2016 Activity Update
  • BCFC Equipment
  • BCMA Report
  • BC Weed Act
  • BC Water Act
  • Agriculture in Schools
  • Foreign farmland ownership

2016 BCFC Workshop & Evening Seminar

Have you ever thought about doing your own on farm research?  Join us as we develop our new manual "On Farm Demonstration Research".

Give us your feedback and help shape and create this exciting publication! Bring your research ideas and leave with a plan you can implement this year!

Space is limited for this portion so register early!

The evening seminar will focus on an update of the BC Forage Councils latest project - "Demonstrating Innovative Forage Production Practices to Increase Climate Change", making sense of weather station data on the Farmwest website and a balanced approach to soil health!

Event Date: Friday, May 6, 2016
Workshop:  10:30am - 4:30pm
Evening Seminar 7:00pm - 9:00pm
Location: The Village Inn, Vanderhoof 
Contact: Sheri Schweb 
Contact Phone: 250-255-9065 
Contact Email: bcfc@bcforagecouncil.com

PDF: BCFC-Workshop-Seminar2016finalpdf.pdf

BCFC FIELD DAY in Vanderhoof on October 20, 2015

The BC Forage Council, with support from the BC Farm Adaptation Innovator Program, Nechako-Kitamaat Development Fund, and the Omineca Beetle Coalition, invite you to attend a FIELD DAY to showcase on-farm research in Vanderhoof.  We will be looking at:

  • extending the grazing season using forage kale
  • performance of several alfalfa varieties
  • how seeding rates and mixes might affect alfalfa establishment

There is no cost, but you must register by October 13.  To register, please email Nancy Portman at nancy.portman@gov.bc.ca, or phone 1-800-334-3011.

Date: October 20, 2015
Time:  12:00 noon - 4:30 pm
Meeting Place:  Whispering Winds Ranch (Ruiter's), 11667 Goldie Road

Forage Seminar 2015 in Vanderhoof and Quesnel

The BC Forage Council with support from Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative, Glen Dale Agra Services Ltd., and Hi-Pro Feeds are pleased to present Dr. Dan Undersander and Kris Wierenga, who will be sharing their knowledge of Alfalfa Management, Harvest Practices and Relative Feed Value. Dr. Dan Undersander is a researcher and extension specialist with the University of Wisconsin’s Agronomy Department. Dr. Undersander’s work involves alfalfa and grass plant health and survival, best management practices for harvesting forage, optimum management practices for intensively grazed pastures and the use of Near Infrared Reflectance in assessing forage quality.  Kris Wierenga is a beef nutritionist with Hi-Pro Feeds who comes from a mixed farming background. Kris completed a Master’s degree in ruminant nutrition at the University of Alberta and works closely with cow/calf, backgrounding, and finishing feedlot producers.



Forage a huge, underappreciated part of agriculture


Canada's largest crop, occupying 39 per cent of the farmable land, is forage -- hay and pasture to feed livestock. However, despite its sizeable footprint and contribution to the Canadian economy, forage gets lost in the shuffle when it comes to allocating funds for research and development. It's partly because it does its best work behind the scenes. Forage lands are often referred to as "unimproved" or "undeveloped." Those terms ignore the valuable roles those lands play -- economically, by supporting livestock production as well as environmentally by reducing soil erosion, improving water quality, maintaining wildlife habitat and adding to biological diversity. But it's also because there are no easy way to raise funds for forage research. The structure of the industry is such that a checkoff won't work, because most of the production is never sold through commercial channels. It is either fed on farm or sold producer to producer. Historically, research into improved varieties has been done by the public sector, but government support for that research has been waning since the 1990s. A 2007 analysis shows publicly funded forage research had declined by $44 million annually during the previous 15 years. That lack of research into new and improved varieties has resulted in forage yields that are stagnant or declining. Read more here.


BCFC Looking for Forage Producer Participants in Vanderhoof Area

The BCFC is looking for producers who are willing to participate in research to assess innovative farm practices for adapting to climate change and weather related production risks, and to identify new and adaptive management practices. The project will involve the development of tools to support on-farm trials, several farm-scale demonstration sites where the producers complete trials over two summers (2015 and 2016) with the project providing research development support, access to research equipment, lab analyses, and local climate data. (Project Summary is attached.)

The final outcome of this project will be a Workbook and Manual: "How to Conduct Your Own Farm-Scale Research Projects", educational opportunities for area producers through field days and a workshop and increased farm related weather information for the area.  Read more here.

Demonstrating Innovative Forage Production Practices to Increase Climate Change Adapation - Project Summary 2014

The BC Forage Council has successfully funded a forage project that will assist in the development of on-farm adaptations focused on producing high quality forage under a variety of weather conditions. Through the development of a weather station network within the production area, the evaluation of production techniques using on-farm trials, and the creation of a manual for conducting on-farm trials, this project seeks to increase the information and management options available to producers as well as provide for the long-term ability to respond to changes in growing conditions. With the establishment of several weather stations, this project will also result in weather information from currently under-represented geographies being made available to those involved in climate change adaptation.  Read more here.

BC Forage Council hires Agrowest Consulting - November 2014

Current Projects

1. Forage Project 2014-2017:  "Demonstrating innovative forage production practices to increase climate change adaptation"

2. Forage Export Project 2013:  "Forage Production and Export Potential in BC's Central Interior"

  • Summary Report:  Forage Production and Export Potential in BC's Central Interior (5 page pdf)
  • Complete Report:  Forage Production and Export Potential in BC's Central Interior - December 31, 2013 (March revision) (122 page pdf)
  • This report presents findings from a study of the Central Interior Forage industry. It was initiated to address marketing issues related to a hay surplus created in the area by a decade long downturn in the beef cow industry, and also to consider the potential development of a hay export industry. Two hay compression plants were constructed in the Vanderhoof area in 2012. Both started operations in 2013, and began processing hay for export to China, Japan and other countries.
  • The main objectives of this report were to:
    • Identify production potential, opportunities, and challenges related to hay production for the domestic and export markets in the Central Interior.
    • Provide information to help support producer decision making around production for the domestic and export markets.
    • To assess the potential impacts of a Central Interior export hay industry on other agriculture sectors. 

3. Cariboo-Chilcotin Forage Variety Trials 2009-2012


Link to Variety Testing Results Page

Link to BCFC Photos

Presidents' Reports

Newsletter Articles

Article:  Extending Grazing and Reducing Stored Feed Needs

A New Twist on Cropping - Living Legume Mulches

The BCFC Forage Council supports and encourages forage education throughout the province. As the provincial representative of forage producers, the BCFC will assist regional associations by providing assistance in obtaining funding and finding speakers for seminars, meetings, field days and tours which will directly promote education in the areas of forage selection and management. For more information please contact us at email: bcfc@bcforagecouncil.com or phone: 250-267-6522.


The BC Forage Council was established in 1988 to support the forage industry in the province and to provide a unified voice to speak for forage crop producers.  Membership in the Council stands at about 250, the majority of whom are individual producers. The Council is guided by a 14-member board of directors composed of six producers along with representatives from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada; BC Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries; the University of BC; the Canadian Seed Trade Association; and the Crop Protection Institute of Canada.  Click here to view BCFC photos.


  • Funding support and coordination of the forage cultivar trials at strategic locations throughout BC. Yields taken from these trials provide a source of comparative performance data on the most widely grown forage species. Crops tested include alfalfa, cicer milkvetch, orchardgrass, tall and meadow fescues, smooth and meadow bromes, perennial ryegrass and timothy.
  • Currently, BC Forage Council trials are located in 3 locations: Lower Fraser Valley, Creston and Highway 16.
  • Funding of forage management research. For instance, the Council funded a trial comparing the performance of tall fescue and orchardgrass with and without alfalfa at 3 Interior sites.
  • BCFC supports forage education.  As the provincial representative of forage producers, the BCFC will assist regional associations by providing assistance in obtaining funding and finding speakers for meetings, field days and tours which will directly promote education in the areas of forage selection and management. 


  • BC producers harvest over 2 million tonnes of forage annually from 1 million acres.
  • Forage is the backbone of the beef, dairy, bison horse and sheep industries. Farm receipts for the beef, bison, dairy and sheep sectors exceed $732 million (2007).
  • Forages are grown on more than 95% of BC agricultural land.
  • Almost 75% of forage produced in BC is fed to livestock on the same farm it is harvested.


The BC Forage Council is a non-profit society funded through individual and agri-business memberships. More than 90% of our members are individual producers.

The Council provides an opportunity for individuals to share their expertise and experience in the production and marketing of forage crops as well as providing an opportunity to develop a collective opinion on issues that are important to the forage sector. The support of individual producers is a key element in the maintenance of an active voice for forage-related issues in BC agriculture.