Farm Press Sunbelt Expo 2021 39 Farm Press Sunbelt Expo 2021 39
BY BRAD HAIRE
Farm Press Editorial Staff
THE REGION’S TOP hay producers and forage experts will once again bring the tradition of the annual Southeastern Hay Contest awards ceremony to the Sunbelt AgExpo on opening day Oct. 19.
The contest is an educational partnership between 13 Southeastern land-grantuniversities. Over the last 17 years, the program has encouraged producers to testtheir hay to refine Southeastern forageproduction practices. The contest is coordinated by Marcelo Wallau with the University of Florida, Lisa Baxter with the University of Georgia and Leanne Dillard withAuburn University.
The mission of the hay contest is “toeducate people about hay quality, tounderstand how to make good hay, andwhat influence good hay has on animalfeeding, performance and supplementa-tion costs,” Wallau said.
The pandemic disrupted the contest’straditional award ceremony at the Expoin Moultrie, Ga., which was postponedin October 2020. Winners for 2020 wereannounced at the American Forage andGrassland Council (AFGC) annual conference in Savannah, Ga., Jan 5.
Brian Johnson of McKenney, Va.,grabbed the top spot of the 2020 Southeastern Hay Contest with an alfalfa samplescoring a whopping relative forage qualityvalue of 268.
Producers can enter the SEHC in sevencategories:
• Warm season perennial grass hay(bermudagrass, bahiagrass)
• Alfalfa hay
• Perennial peanut hay
• Perennial cool season grass (tall fescue, orchardgrass, etc.) hay
• Mixed and annual grass hay
• Grass baleage
• Legume baleage
The top three entries in each cate-
gory receive a cash prize. The overall win-
ner receives a choice of the use of a new
Massey Ferguson DM Series disc mower
or RK Series rotary rake for hay production
season plus $1,000.
“One of the many things we missed last
year was the Southeast Hay Contest awards
ceremony on opening day. Even though
we recognized them at a later date, it just
wasn’t the same as doing it at the show.
We are looking forward to seeing everyoneinvolved, both winners and sponsors, andrestarting a Sunbelt tradition,” said ChipBlalock, Sunbelt Expo executive director.
Entries were still coming in for the 2021contest when Wallau spoke to SoutheastFarm Press the first week in August.
“This year, we are shy from our goal ofmore entries and one entry from each state,but we are making progress. We normallysee a large portion of samples being submitted mid-summer. As you know, different states on the southeast have different‘prime time’ for producing top hay,” he said.
Weather conditions were harsh in someparts of the region. Excessive rain hinderedhay harvest in Florida and parts of Georgia and Alabama, he said. Farther west, dryconditions didn’t help hay production.
Contest organizers have made somechanges to the contest this year. Entries canbe submitted year-round. If received afterSept. 1, submissions automatically countfor the following year. There is now a topExtension agent award, which goes to theagent from each state who submitted thelargest number of samples. That prize category is growing, dependent on fundingfor each state. It is only available for Floridaand Georgia this year.
“We have expanded our reach, have
more and new states participating which
hadn’t sent samples before, and we are
expanding our educational component
though partnerships with AFGC and state
extension groups,” Wallau said. “We also
have seen trends on improvement of the
general quality of samples submitted,
which means producers could be using
the results from the contest to gauge their
progress, and fine tune their hay produc-
Southeast’s top hay producers
return to Sunbelt Ag Expo
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