It was baleage, not hay, that outdistanced the record field of 380 entries in the Southeastern Hay Contest presented by Massey Ferguson. The legume baleage sample from Yon Family Farms, Ridge Spring, S.C., had a relative forage quality (RFQ) of 241 to top the contest. The winners for each category were announced earlier this morning at the Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie, Ga.

In total, award winners were recognized in seven different forage categories (see table below). In each of the categories, the three highest RFQ samples captured cash prizes for the entrants. For their winning entry, Yon Family Farms will receive $1,000 in cash and their choice of the use of a new Massey Ferguson DM Series disc mower or RK Series rotary rake for the 2020 hay production season.

Grabbing the reins as chairperson for this year’s contest was Marcello Wallau, forage extension specialist for the University of Florida.

“This is more than a competition,” Wallau said. “It is a tool to gauge the progress of hay farmers, who learn from and try to improve their operation from each sample submitted. Although winning entries always have an impressively high RFQ, the important point is that category averages are also high,” he added.

“Good hay is a combination of proper cutting time and good agronomic practices, especially split fertilization after each cut,” said Bill Conrad, who won the perennial peanut category and placed third in the alfalfa category. “It is great having the recognition for the hard work, especially from fellow producers, but I would like to see more attention paid from hay consumers for the value of high-quality hay.”

The Southeastern Hay Contest marked its 15th year and is a partnership between Auburn University, Clemson University, the University of Florida, and the University of Georgia. Producers from Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, Alabama, South Carolina, Arkansas, and Texas are eligible to submit entries. For additional information, visit the contest website.