From left to right, Ash Alt (Massey Ferguson), Lisa Baxter (University of Georgia), Leanne Dillard (Auburn University), and Marcelo Wallau (University of Florida).

An alfalfa hay sample outdistanced 370 entries to earn grand champion honors in the 2020 Southeastern Hay Contest presented by Massey Ferguson. The top hay sample was produced by Brian Johnson of McKenney, Va., and had a relative forage quality (RFQ) of 268. The winners for each category were announced last week at the American Forage and Grassland Council’s Annual Conference in Savannah, Ga.

In total, award winners were recognized in seven different forage categories (see results table below). In each of the categories, the three highest RFQ samples captured cash prizes for the entrants. For his winning entry, Johnson will receive $1,000 in cash and his choice to use a new Massey Ferguson DM Series disc mower or an RK Series rotary rake for the 2021 hay production season.

The event is coordinated by Marcello Wallau, forage extension specialist with the University of Florida; Lisa Baxter, forage extension specialist with the University of Georgia; and Leanne Dillard, forage extension specialist with Auburn University.

“We increased our reach and had more states submitting samples to the contest than ever before,” Wallau said. “This is a great achievement for a year that was challenged by COVID-19.”

For the 2020 contest, forage samples were received from nine different states and were analyzed and ranked based on RFQ. “We are still missing a few states in the Southeast, and that will be our challenge for the 2021 Southeastern Hay Contest — to have at least one sample from each of the eligible states,” Wallau said.

The Southeastern Hay Contest marked its 16th year and is a partnership between 13 land-grant university extension services. The contest is open to any hay or baleage producer located in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma (east of I-35), South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas (east of I-35), or Virginia. For additional information, visit the contest website.