L.C. Strange Farm, Emanuel County, GA, captured first place in the warm-season perennial grass hay category of the 2011 Southeast Hay Contest. The winning entry had a crude protein of 19.5%, a TDN of 61.7% and a 142 relative forage quality (RFQ) score. Contest results were announced during the Oct. 18-20 Sunbelt Agricultural Expo in Moultrie, GA.

Other first-place winners, all from Georgia, included Vickers Still Farm, Coffee County, in the perennial peanut-alfalfa hay category; Duncan Legacy Farm, Carroll County, in cool-season perennial grass hay; and Verner Farms, Morgan County, in grass baleage. Coggins Farms, Echols County, GA, notched first-place honors in the mixed and annual grass hay and legume baleage categories.

Entries to the contest, open to growers in 13 Southeastern states, were down 42% compared to the 2010 total, notes Dennis Hancock, University of Georgia Extension forage specialist and contest organizer. Adverse weather in the Southeast played a role in limiting entries, he suspects.

"Just about every month during the summer of 2011 was at or near the record for heat and drought in the 117-year history of weather data. Many areas set records for the number of days with 90-degree-plus temperatures, and nighttime temperatures frequently brought no respite."

Significant declines in hay acreage, the elimination of a substantial number of local Extension-agent positions and the closing of some Extension offices may have also been factors in the drop-off, Hancock says.

For an interview with Hancock on Southeastern hay prices and supply, visit here. He comments further on the contest in this short video.