The World's Forage Analysis Superbowl helped Ervin Gara III, Torrington, WY, find new customers and new markets for his hay. Gara was named 2006 World's Champion Forage Producer as a first-time Superbowl entrant at World Dairy Expo last year. "It's good exposure and has been a good marketing tool," he says. "I would encourage anyone to enter the contest. I had lots of people coming up and talking to me at World Dairy Expo, asking about our hay." Gara's success was featured in a number of news reports and articles, helping get the word out about his quality hay product.
Gara claimed the title with his fourth-cutting NK Genoa alfalfa sample. His winning entry tested 25% crude protein, 23.2% NDF on a dry-matter basis, and 55.78% NDF digestibility, with a relative feed value (RFV) of 286 and relative forage quality (RFQ) score of 321. Gara raises 3,000 acres of irrigated alfalfa and around 300 acres of corn, custom-harvests 500 acres of alfalfa and manages a 300-head cow-calf herd.
Soil samples are taken every year, and fertilization is based on sample results. Gara strives to cut every 32-35 days, depending on the weather. "We rake the hay early in the morning to take advantage of the dew and keep the leaf retention, and we bale at night," he explains. "I try to run three balers at night, and we are constantly checking the moisture to make sure we are not going too high. We utilize the dew that is out here and the altitude we have to make good hay." Gara usually makes four cuttings a year, baling around 15,000 tons of alfalfa in 4 x 4 x 8' bales. All hay is sold based on test results. Most is sold to dairies. His main customer is one of the largest dairies in Colorado, but Gara also sells to clients in Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin and Texas.
Entries in the 2007 Superbowl are due at AgSource Soil and Forage Laboratory, Bonduel, WI, by Sept. 6. Growers can enter forage samples in any of six contest categories: dairy hay, dairy haylage, standard dairy corn silage, dairy corn silage (BMR), commercial hay and commercial baleage. Winners in each category will win a year's free use of a hay rake, no-till drill or other implement. The top winner will get two $2,500 coupons toward equipment purchases. For contest rules and entry forms, visit hayandforage.com and click on the Superbowl icon. For more on Gara's win, visit hayandforage.com.
Contact Gara at 307-532-4558.