A multi-state hay contest can influence growers to use forage tests and help increase relative forage quality (RFQ) scores.

Georgia, Alabama and Florida researchers kept track of the influence of the Southeastern Hay Contest, started in 2004 as an educational tool by extension service personnel in those states.

From 2004 to 2006, the number of samples analyzed for the contest increased from 42 to 122 to 177, respectively.

Mean RFQ scores increased five units per year despite poor growing conditions in 2006. From five representative counties, the average number of contest and non-contest samples analyzed increased from 23.2 to 35.6 and RFQ scores increased by 13 units. Those samples represented 26% of the 2006 entries received by the contest.