hay harvest 2016

Southeast Hay Contest showcases high quality despite adverse weather

High-quality Georgia-grown alfalfa proved to be the overall winning entry of the Southeast Hay Contest this year, a year in which making hay was not easy in some regions, much less good hay.

High-quality Georgia-grown alfalfa proved to be the overall winning entry of the Southeast Hay Contest this year, a year in which making hay was not easy in some regions, much less good hay.

Bohlen and Son Farm in Madison, Ga., submitted the winning entry, which had a relative forage quality, or RFQ, score of 254, said Dennis Hancock, University of Georgia Extension forage specialist who coordinates the contest.

Toby Bowen, left, AGCO account manager, presents Bubba Bohlen with Bohlen and Son Farms the big check for being the top entry in this year’s Southeast Hay Contest.

“We had contest entries from 13 different states from across the Southeast, all the way from Texas and Oklahoma east of I-35 and all the way up to Virginia. Some folks had extremely wet weather and some folks had extremely dry weather this year, and they had every bit in between,” Hancock said.

The contest had 269 entries, slightly down from last year’s total, “But given the weather we have had this year, I consider that a success because of the real challenge of making good hay this year,” he said.

Winners were announced during the opening day of the Sunbelt Ag Expo Oct. 18. Contest categories include warm-season perennial grass hay, alfalfa hay, perennial peanut hay, cool-season perennial grass hay, mixed annual grass or other hays, grass baleage, legume baleage and high-moisture legume or grass/legume mix.

In each of the categories, the highest three entries in terms of relative forage quality received cash prizes. First place received $125, second received $75, and third place received $50.

Bohlen and Son Farm, as top winner of the contest, got to choose between the use of a new Massey Ferguson DM Series disc mower or RK Series rotary rake for the 2017 hay season, plus $1,000.

Weather is always a major limiting factor when it comes to producing high-quality forage. “This  year,  drought-stress increased the  incidence  of  high  nitrate  levels  in  the  forage,  and 9 percent of  the  samples submitted  to  the  contest  were  disqualified  because  nitrates  were  greater  than  5,000 ppm,” Hancock said. “Still, the forage quality this year was very high. The average relative forage quality was on par with, or equal to, the winning values in the contest’s 12-year history. … Good management can make a remarkable improvement in forage quality in both favorable and unfavorable weather conditions.”

Category winners from the 2016 Southeastern Hay Contest

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