It wouldn’t be a surprise to see a high level of quality in alfalfa samples entered in this year’s World Forage Analysis Superbowl despite the drought, says Dan Undersander.

“With a crop like alfalfa, drought years usually mean you have plants with less stem and more leaf,” says the University of Wisconsin Extension forage specialist, who has been involved in the contest for 25 years. “That leads to higher quality, even though the tonnage is less. It’s going to be an interesting year.”

The Sept. 6 entry deadline for alfalfa and grass (hay and haylage) entries in this year’s superbowl is rapidly approaching. But contest organizers say it’s too early to tell how drought in the country’s midsection might affect participation.

As of the middle of last week, just 40 entries had been submitted in those categories. Last year’s contest had nearly 195 entries. But the early numbers might be misleading, says Steve Peterson, vice president of AgSource Cooperative Services’ North Central Division. AgSource analyses contest entries.

“The tradition has been the majority of samples arrive around the deadline date,” he notes.

In the superbowl’s two corn silage categories (traditional and brown midrib), 186 entries were submitted by this year’s Aug. 16 deadline. That compares to 214 total samples entered in 2011.

Peterson says the lower corn silage entry numbers aren’t necessarily connected to the drought. “The samples are mostly from last year’s crop. It (the drought) could be an issue for next year, though.”

Winners in this year’s superbowl, now in its 29th year, will be announced during the 2012 World Dairy Expo, scheduled for Oct 2-6 at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, WI. Get contest rules and entry forms.

News from other high-profile hay and forage contests:

● Sept. 24 is the entry deadline for the 2012 Southeastern Hay Contest, open to hay growers in 13 Southeastern states. Growers can enter six categories, including warm-season perennial grass hay, perennial peanut or alfalfa hay, cool-season perennial grass hay, mixed annual grass or other hay, grass baleage or legume baleage. The entry fee is $15/sample. Winners will be announced during the Sunbelt Ag Expo, scheduled for Oct. 16-18 in Moultrie, GA. Additional information on the contest and entry forms are available on the Georgia Forages Web site. (Scroll to Hot Topics, Southeastern Hay Contest.)

● Growers of high-quality forage in 11 Western states have until Dec. 13 to submit samples of alfalfa hay, standard corn silage and/or brown midrib corn silage in the 2013 World Ag Expo Forage Challenge. The entry fee is $25. Winners will be announced Feb. 12 at World Ag Expo in Tulare, CA. Get entry forms and full contest rules.

● Extremely dry weather throughout the growing season crimped hay yields statewide in Wyoming this year, but entry numbers were up in the 2012 Wyoming State Fair Hay Show, held earlier this month in Douglas. Overall quality of entries was up, too, says show coordinator Donn Randall, crop and forage program manager for the Wyoming Business Council’s Agribusiness Division. “For the alfalfa entries, we had 15 entries with RFVs of 251 or above,” says Randall. “That’s an unusually high number.” Dave Hinman, Wheatland, WY, was named premier hay exhibitor and captured best-of-show honors in this year’s competition.