The results of the 2014 Southeastern Hay Contest were revealed last week at the Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie, GA. This year represents the 10th anniversary of this contest, and the quality of the forage submitted, as well as the quantity of entries, did not disappoint.
Weather is always a major limiting factor when attempting to produce high quality forage. This year, dry conditions in the later-half of the growing season caused drought to be a major limitation. Drought stress increased the incidence of high nitrate levels in the forage in 2014. Still, the forage quality was much higher than in 2013, when near daily rainfall greatly limited the Southeastern hay producer’s ability to harvest good quality forage.
The average relative forage quality (RFQ) was higher in each category in 2014 compared to last year’s results. Also, the winning entries from each category were far greater in 2014. Good management can make a remarkable improvement in forage quality in both favorable and unfavorable weather conditions. The number of entries in the SEHC was also dramatically increased compared to previous years. We received 185 entries to the contest compared to only 109 entries in 2013.