R.W. Griffin expands exhibit in permanent building
BY JOHN LEIDNER
THE 2017 SOU THEAS TERN Hay Contest, presented by Massey Ferguson,
has become the premiere forage quality competition in the region, with
entries from hundreds of producers in 13 states.
Winning entries in this year’s contest will be announced at 9: 30 a.m.,
Oct. 17, during the opening day of the Sunbelt Ag Expo on the R.W.
Griffin Stage in the R. W. Griffin Building on Block D- 7.
The contest is designed to show that high quality hay and round bale
silage can be grown in the southeastern states. As the primary sponsor,
Massey Ferguson will be providing a grand prize consisting of a DM Series professional disc mower or a Massey Ferguson RK Series rotary rake
for use during the 2018 hay season, plus a $1,000 grand prize.
Other companies will offer cash prizes for each of seven hay categories.
Cash awards in the amounts of $125 for first place, $75 for second place,
and $50 for third place will be awarded to producers in each category.
The other sponsoring companies include America’s Alfalfa, Georgia
Twine, Athens Seed Co., Perennial Peanut Producers Association, Inland
Tarp & Liner, R. W. Griffin Industries LLC, and Southeast AgriSeeds.
Hay producers who enter the contest are also eligible to advertise
their hay in the SE Hay Directory, which aims to connect high quality forage producers with buyers who value quality forage.
The seven categories for this year’s contest include warm season
perennial grass hay, alfalfa hay, perennial peanut hay, cool season perennial grass hay, mixed annual grass or other hay, grass baleage, and
Producers from 13 southeastern states are eligible to enter the contest, including growers from Texas and Oklahoma, if their farms are located east of Interstate Highway 35. Entry forms must be submitted by
local Extension agents, who certify that producers have met all contest
rules and requirements.
The 2016 contest had 269 entries, and the highest overall RFQ, with a
score of 254, came from a sample of alfalfa hay made at Bohlen and Son
Farm at Madison, Ga.
Category winners last year included Jeff and Brenda Bacon, Dudley,
Ga., for warm season perennial grass hay; Bohlen & Son Farm, Madison,
Ga., for alfalfa hay; Stolzfus Farms, Blountstown, Fla., for perennial peanut
hay; Eddie Wilson, LaFayette, Ga., for cool season perennial grass hay.
Bohlen & Son Farm, Madison, Ga., for mixed annual grass or other
hay; Walters Farm, Thomaston, Ga., for grass baleage; Marcus South,
Thomaston, Ga., for legume baleage; and Bill Grubb of Grubb Grass,
Comer, Ga., for high moisture legume or legume-grass mix.
Dennis Hancock, University of Georgia Extension forage specialist,
says dry weather impacted the 2016 hay season. Drought stress increased
the incidence of nitrate levels in forages, and 9 percent of samples submitted for the contest were disqualified because nitrate concentrations
were greater than 5,000 parts per million. Despite the challenges from
drought and nitrates, the overall quality of forages submitted was equal
or about the same as quality measures in the contest’s 12-year history.
Good management can make a remarkable improvement in forage quality in both favorable and unfavorable weather conditions, says
Hay quality for the contest is measured using the Relative Forage
Quality (RFQ) index developed by the University of Florida and the University of Wisconsin. It predicts the fiber digestibility and animal intake
of harvested forages.
Since 2003, hundreds of warm season grass samples have been used
to refine the RFQ equation for bermudagrass and other warm season forages. All forage sample results from the University of Georgia’s Feed and
Environmental Water Laboratory contain an estimate for RFQ. This value
is a single, easy-to-interpret number that is designed to improve the
understanding of forage nutritional quality. It can also be used to establish a fair market value for hay forage.
Hancock expects another large number of entries for the 2017
Southeastern Hay Contest. “We’ll have a competitive field,” he says,
“and we should also have some good quality hay entries due to fre-
quent rainfall this spring and early summer.”
Over the years of the competition, alfalfa has generally had the best
RFQ, he says, and has won the overall hay contest by having the highest
RFQ scores during nine of the past 10 years.
The best RFQ scores, Hancock says, tend to come from hay cut
during the early summer, spring, and early fall when measures for forage
sugar content and digestibility tend to peak.
“With bermudagrass, for example, the highest quality hay scores
tend to come from the first and second cuttings of the season. With al-
falfa grown in the South, the highest quality hay tends to come from cut-
tings during September and October.”
Hancock also notes that ryegrass can add high quality to mixed grass
cuttings with bermudagrass. “Straight ryegrass is also very good in qual-
ity, and we’ve seen ryegrass often produce the best RFQ scores in the
annual grass category of the Southeastern Hay Contest.”
THE SUNBELT AG EXPO is proud to announce
that R. W. Griffin will be expanding its exhibit
presence at 2017 Expo and moving into a per-
manent building. The company will be show-
casing its product lines, services, and partner
companies in their new location on Block D- 7.
The opening ceremony of the 40th anniversary Sunbelt Ag Expo will be held on the
R.W. Griffin Exhibit Stage, and the winner of
the Southeastern Hay Competition and the
unveiling of the Georgia Agricultural Commodity Commission for Equine’s new vehicle tag
will also be held on their stage. A special 40th
anniversary Sunbelt Expo exhibit will also be
housed in the building.
“We are extremely excited about R. W. Grif-
fin’s commitment to this new exhibit,” says Chip
Blalock, Sunbelt Expo executive director. “They
have been a great partner to work with from
the very beginning. Having this permanent ex-
hibit building will allow them the opportunity
to really showcase everything R. W. Griffin has
to offer the farmer and agribusinessman.”
A Silver sponsor of the show since 2013,
R. W. Griffin is recognized as Expo’s Official Fer-
tilizer Company, co-sponsoring with Southern
States Cooperative. R. W. Griffin is also a spon-
sor of the annual Sunbelt Ag Expo Field day
held in July.
R. W. Griffin, a feed, seed and farm supply
store, along with a cotton business, was established in 1920 at Douglas, Ga., and has grown
from that one store to 18 retail locations, two
cotton gins, several major liquid terminals, a
major liquid manufacturing operation, bulk
storage warehouses, and several peanut facilities and grain buying points.
At Expo, the region's
best hay will be