The 17th annual Southeast Hay Contest was the best yet, with a record 387 entries from nine different states. The 2021 Southeast Hay Contest awards presentation was held at the Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie, Georgia on October 19, 2021.
Producers entered forage samples into seven different categories:
- Warm season perennial grass hay (bermudagrass, bahiagrass)
- Alfalfa hay
- Perennial peanut hay
- Perennial cool season grass hay (tall fescue, orchardgrass, etc.)
- Mixed and annual grass hay
- Grass baleage
- Legume baleage
The samples submitted were ranked based on relative forage quality (RFQ) with the top three entries in each category receiving a plaque and a cash prize: 1st place – $250, 2nd place -$200 , and 3rd place – $100. The overall winner (highest RFQ) received $1,000 and a choice of the use of a new Massey Ferguson DM Series disc mower or RK Series rotary rake for the 2022 hay production season.
For the first time since the contest began in 2004, a Florida forage producer won top honors. The winner of the 2021 Southeast Hay Contest was Bill Conrad who farms near Malone, Florida. Bill Conrad, his son Joe, and daughter Heidi raise perennial peanut, and alfalfa to square bale and sell to horse and goat farms. This year they tried something new and grew crimson clover. Their crimson clover square baled hay turned out to be the best hay in the entire Southeast, and the highest quality hay the farm had ever produced. Their crimson clover hay had an RFQ of 297, with 20.5% crude protein (CP), and 74.5% total digestible nutrients (TDN) on a dry matter basis.
Florida growers were also recognized with top entries in the Perennial Peanut hay category. The second place entry in the Perennial Peanut Hay category was produced by Bill Conrad. His Perennial peanut hay had an RFQ of 202, 19.2% CP, and 65.8% TDN. The third place entry in the Perennial Peanut Hay category was also an entry from a Florida producer. William McGehee, High Springs, Florida submitted a perennial peanut hay with an RFQ of 197, with 20.4% CP, and 66.7% TDN
For the second year, the County Extension Agents that submitted the most entries from Georgia and Florida were also recognized. Haily Partain, UGA Upson and Lamar County Ag Agent was recognized as the top Georgia agent, with a total of 92 entries from the two counties she serves. Mark Mauldin, UF/IFAS Washington County Ag Extension Agent, submitted 28 entries from forage producers in his local county.
The following were the top three entries for the 2021 contest in each of the seven categories, along with the sponsors of the cash awards for each category.
Want to send in a sample for next year’s contest? Submissions for the 2022 contest are now being accepted. For more information, visit the SE Hay Contest website, download the 2022 SE Hay Contest Rules and Entry Form, or contact your local county extension agent. All entry forms must include the signature of your local county agent to verify the source of the entry. The SEHC is a partnership between Cooperative Extension and private industry, who make this event possible.