Challenging forage-making conditions in many parts of the country this year didn’t dampen grower enthusiasm of the upcoming World Forage Analysis Superbowl, say event organizers.
But it may have limited participation this year in contest categories like commercial hay, which had 20 entries, and grass hay, which had 22 entries. So says Dan Undersander, forage specialist with University of Wisconsin Extension and long-time Superbowl promoter.
This year’s contest, to be held in conjunction with the Oct. 1-5 World Dairy Expo in Madison, WI, drew 321 entries in two corn silage and five hay and haylage categories.
“For a lot of growers, taking part in the contest is a good way to market their hay. But with last year’s drought and supply shortage, most growers were able to sell every bit of hay they could get their hands on. As a result, they likely figured they don’t need to do as much advertising or promotion this year.”
Even with reports of low-quality forage production, quality scores in this year’s contest are on par with those from other years. In the commercial hay category, the top sample’s relative forage quality (RFQ) score was 279.
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“We always hear some people complain that a score that high isn’t going to feed very well,” says Undersander. “My response is that it’s like race-car driving. Most of us aren’t going to drive at 200 miles per hour. But there’s still value in knowing how someone does it.”
For grass hay, the top entry registered a 204 RFQ. “There were a few samples in the category that were stemmy and headed out. But there was also some beautiful-looking hay. It shows there are always some growers who, through a combination of skill and luck, will put up some very high-quality hay.”
Winners in the 2013 Superbowl will be announced Oct. 2 at a luncheon on the World Dairy Expo grounds. At stake is prize money totaling more than $22,000. In honor of the Superbowl’s 30th anniversary, this year’s grand champion forage cash prize has increased from $2,500 to $3,000. Contest entries will be on display in the Arena Building at the Alliant Energy Center during the expo. Top-place winners will be announced in the Oct. 8 edition of eHay Weekly.
The Superbowl is organized in partnership by Hay & Forage Grower; DairyBusiness Communications; Dairyland Laboratories, Inc.; U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center; University of Wisconsin-Madison and World Dairy Expo.
A full slate of forage-related educational seminars will be held next to the contest entries in the Arena Building.
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