When David Dickey was invited to Madison, WI, to be honored on Sept. 30 as overall winner in the 2009 World's Forage Analysis Superbowl, his nutritionist and seed dealer didn't expect him to accept.

“They were amazed that I would go because we were right in the middle of chopping,” says Dickey, of Southtown Dairy, South New Berlin, NY.

Corn silage harvesting gets top priority on the farm he manages because its 650-cow herd is fed rations with up to 63% forage, and most of that forage is corn silage. The cows average 24,000 lbs of milk and consume 22-24 lbs/cow/day of corn silage dry matter. To improve digestibility, Dickey grows brown midrib (BMR) hybrids on about half of his corn acres, and all cows get some of that silage.

Determined to make the best-possible corn silage, he's fussy about chopping at the right moisture content, processing the crop properly and making a dense pile.

“The guys on the pile are running dry matters every hour,” he reports. “If we get into a situation where we're into green corn, we stop and move.”

He uses two packing tractors, sets his chopper for a ¾-1” chop length and aims to break 100% of the kernels.

“Basically, I set the processor as tight as it'll go and leave it there,” he says.

He won the superbowl with a sample of silage made from Mycogen F2F449, a 104-day BMR hybrid with Herculex insect protection. The sample, from the 2008 corn crop, tested 38.4% starch, 32.5% NDF, 67.8% NDF digestibility and produced 3,789 lbs of milk per ton.

Dickey flew to Madison and attended the annual superbowl awards luncheon held during World Dairy Expo, taking home the contest's $2,500 top prize. The winners of six hay, haylage and corn silage categories each received $1,500 and the top first-time entrant won $500. Cash prizes also were awarded to the second- and third-place finishers in each category, plus two new Quality Counts cash awards were presented. In total, more than $17,000 were awarded.

When Dickey was named overall winner, Steiner Farms, Sterling, OH, became winner of the dairy corn silage (BMR) category. Its sample of Mycogen F2F700 tested 34% starch, 41.2% NDF and 66.4% NDF digestibility. Second place went to Michael Brubaker, Mount Joy, PA; third place to Holme's Acres Farms, New Woodstock, NY.

The standard dairy corn silage (non-BMR) grand champion was Mike McNamara, Emerald, WI, with silage from a DeKalb hybrid that tested 42.4% starch, 30.2% NDF and 59.3% NDF digestibility. Finishing second and third, respectively, were Mark and Angela Brown, Dodgeville, WI, and S & B Dairy, Sigel, IL.

Repeat winners topped most of the hay and haylage categories, led by Karl and Barb Wogsland, Scandinavia, WI, who won the dairy hay class for the seventh time since 1996. Their first-cutting sample of Genoa alfalfa tested 21.9% crude protein, 21% ADF and 27.3% NDF. David Olson, Lena, WI, and Frank Ott, Jr., Remington, VA, placed second and third, respectively.

Cross Farms, LLC, Oshkosh, WI, won in dairy haylage, its Hybriforce-400 sample testing 24.6% crude protein, 17.9% ADF and 23.8% NDF. Kennard Wagner, Manitowoc, WI, placed second; Sand Creek Dairy, Hastings, MI, third.

Frequent finalists Dan and Ruth Kamps, Darlington, WI, topped the commercial baleage class after a two-year absence from the contest, and also placed fourth in commercial hay. Their baleage entry, made from Pioneer 55V48, tested 25.5% crude protein, 18.9% ADF and 28.7% NDF. Last year's winner, Kendall Guither, Walnut, IL, placed second, and Haag Family Dairy, Reedsburg, WI, finished third.

The commercial hay winner was Ervin Gara III, Torrington, WY, who won the overall contest championship in 2006. This year's Gara entry tested 24.6% crude protein, 18% ADF and 23% NDF. Second- and third-place finishers were, respectively, Danny Decker, Cortez, CO, and Josh and Gretchen Kamps, Belmont, WI.

David Sensening, Platteville, WI, was the top first-time entrant and also won the corn silage Quality Counts award. Meggie Walz, Glen Haven, WI, was the grass/legume Quality Counts winner.

Organizing partners of the annual forage quality contest are AgSource Cooperative Services, DairyBusiness Communications, Hay & Forage Grower, U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center, University of Wisconsin College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and World Dairy Expo.