Top-flight finishes in the World Forage Analysis Superbowl have turned into a habit for Wheatland, WY, commercial hay grower Dave Hinman and his daughter Kellie.

In this year’s contest, Kellie grabbed first-place honors in the commercial hay category while Hinman earned second place. Last year, Kellie took overall superbowl championship honors; Hinman took first place in commercial hay.

“She does like to rub it in every now and then,” he says. He was in Madison, WI, last week for the contest awards luncheon, held in conjunction with World Dairy Expo. “You know how those girls can be.”

Kellie’s fourth-cutting alfalfa entry scored 270 for relative forage quality (RFQ) and tested 25.7% crude protein. Dave’s entry, also from a fourth alfalfa cutting, was almost as impressive: 251 RFQ and 26% crude protein.

The entries were produced on different fields with Syngenta’s (Nexgrow) 6422Q. “It went up really nice,” says Hinman, who grows alfalfa and alfalfa-grass hay on 700 irrigated acres. “It had a lot of leaves, and the structure was really good.”

Staying on top of the basics is key to producing winning entries. “You have to pay attention to when you cut it and how you put it up.”

Cooperation from the weather helps. “When we have dry years, we have the best quality. The hay cures out better. And when you get a little dew on it, you can put up as pretty a hay as you’ve ever seen. I have third-cutting hay going out this year that was solid green, no bleach at all. It was just super.”

Roughly 60% of the hay the Hinmans put up each year goes to dairies in Iowa and Colorado. They market the remainder to cattle ranches, mostly in Wyoming.

Currently, dairy-quality alfalfa packaged in large bales is bringing $200-260/ton at the stack in their area. “There are a lot of people waiting to buy hay right now. And we’ve had to turn a lot of people down. Many aren’t even asking about the price when they call. All they want to know is if they can get some hay laid in and soon.”

Winter weather will determine where prices head from this point forward, he adds. “If we have a dry winter, supplies should be okay. But if we get a lot of snow, you could see people scrambling to find enough hay to get them through. That would put more pressure on the price.”

To contact Hinman, call 307-331-0410 or email hardrock@dishmail.net.

Read more about this year’s superbowl results in another story in this issue, “Wisconsin Dairy Producers Win Forage Superbowl” or visit our photo gallery, "2012 World Forage Analysis Superbowl Winners Named."