Southeastern hay growers will have another marketing tool available this fall – if they take part in this year’s Southeastern Hay Contest.

A directory featuring producers who enter the contest will now be published. Cash prizes will also be offered, organizers announce.

“We get a lot of questions from hay consumers wanting to know how they can get in touch with producers who have good-quality hay to sell,” says Dennis Hancock, forage specialist with University of Georgia (UGA).

“In this part of the country, we don’t have the same kind of infrastructure they do in the Midwest and the West for getting that kind of information out to people. The directory will be a way to connect producers who are putting up high-quality hay with consumers who are looking for that good hay.”

A directory listing will cost each contest entrant $30 on top of the $15/sample lab test fee and $2/sample entry fee. “People taking part in the contest will have the option of listing or not listing in the directory,” says Hancock. “For those who are doing a very good job of producing top-notch hay, it should be worth it.”

The directory will be posted on the UGA Forages website and made available to media outlets throughout the Southeast. Growers from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia are eligible to enter. Categories include warm-season perennial grass hay, perennial peanut or alfalfa hay, cool-season perennial grass hay, mixed annual grass or other hay, grass baleage and legume baleage. Winners are announced at the October 14-16 Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie, GA.

The grower whose entry earns the top RFQ score will win $150, while individual category winners will each receive $50. Second-place finishers will get $20 each plus a free forage-quality test. The third-place award is also a free forage test.

“In the past, all we’ve been able to offer the winners was a handshake, a pat on the back and some recognition in the press,” says Hancock. “Hopefully, producers will see this as an added value to entering the contest.”

Cooperative Extension in Alabama, Florida and South Carolina are co-sponsors of the contest with UGA. Get hay directory information, contest rules and an entry form. This year’s entry deadline is Sept. 22.