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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Not sure how many on here participate in state sponsored Hay Contests or if anyone on Haytalk from Indiana participated, but I decided to jump in this year. They haven't officially announced the results on their facebook page and website yet, but participants got the email results. Purdue University pretty much runs the Indiana Forage Council and determines the rules. The results are reported without identifying the names but I am LH-2. I am happy to announce I got 1st in Alfalfa and 2nd overall! They use RFQ as the final placing value. I missed 1st overall by about 2 RFQ points too. What was really nice is that they only charged $10 for each test to join the contest versus $35 per test outside of the contest. I won $150 for 2nd so I came out ahead even after paying for the tests. I am posting the first 5 placings of legume (alfalfa) results and the first 6 of the overall placings just so people on here can see what happened. Here is a couple of highlights I picked out:

1) Of the top 5 Alfalfa placings 2nd, 3rd and 4th used preservative. My winning sample of Alfalfa did not use preservative
2) Of the top 5 overall placings, only 2nd place (me) did not use preservative. Mixed hay won at 195.62 and I had 193.32 RFQ and the 3rd place was right at 190.3
3) If Alfalfa tested over 18 percent without preservative, your test was disqualified, with preservative it could go as high as 25% without being disqualified.
4) If your mixed hay tested over 20% without preservative, it got disqualified.
5) There was actually a disqualified entry that I didn't show that got 236 RFQ. It was non-treated, and had moisture at 22.95%. He would have won if it was a little drier.
6) The sample I thought was going to to do well, was not my 2nd place finish so glad I sent multiple samples in.
7) It seems that if you want to place high overall, you have to use Alfalfa or at least a high percentage Alfalfa mix.
8) Hay over 140 RFQ is good hay and over 160 is considered to be Premium quality hay so Indiana has some good hay producers despite high competition for row crops.
9) I could never find the results from last year so I don't know if they will post these details or not. Hope I am not letting the cat out of the bag.

It does seem that preservative helped most on the high end of the RFQ values. I have thought about using preservative but the horse customers I have don't like it. Given the higher ratings most got for using preservative, it makes me wonder though if they are missing the boat. I could get it baled at a higher moisture rating.

Let me say that some of what I learned on this forum and advice I have gotten helped me get this higher placing so thanks HayTalk members! I was thrilled to get in the top 3 since this is only my 3rd year of growing pure alfalfa.

I would have been happy to participate just to get the reduced costs for hay tests so I think you win, even if you don't place in the top 3. I also joined the American Forage Council to see what they have to say in the future with my winnings. See pics below.

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Congratulations! Winning a forage contest is a worthy accomplishment!

Given the higher ratings most got for using preservative, it makes me wonder though if they are missing the boat.
They are. A decent amount of the preservative treated hay we have made has been fed to horses with no ill effects.
 
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Congrats on your win!! I've done our state fair here in Maryland a couple of times. They use 6 criteria for the judging but don't do sampling which would be good to see. This year I won 1st place and the President's award for my 2nd cutting OG sample. Also won a 1st place for 1st cutting alfalfa and a 2nd place for 1st cutting OG. Only pay $10 for a 1st place but still fun to compete.
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks everyone. My goal 3 years ago was to make the best Alfalfa I could. I am getting there, I just need consistency now.

It was nice to validate via professional tests rather visual inspection as in Mellow's case, however I wished they would do both. I would like to see what some of that hay looked like. Funny thing is that my daughter exhibited this same Hay in 4-H and she did not win the Crop/Forage division. Two paper posters beat her but that is what you get with variation in judges.

I did let one of my horse customers know about the results and it let me open up the conversation about preservative. I told him that I think it is something that I want to do next year, particularly if I can't get the hay as dry as I want. So, he indicated he would be open to buying it with preservative. I think the preservative would allow me to produce a consistent product and nice in color. My 36 inch bale will be quite a bit heavier with the extra moisture I suppose. With preservative, I will target 20% as the time to start baling unless rain is coming.

I had a really hard time in August this year when relative humidity was running about 90% every day. It wouldn't dry until about 5PM and that window wasn't enough to get it baled and moved before the dew set it. Then next day it would start all over again and not dry until 5pm. With preservative, I would have started sooner and got everything moved.

The hay is always dependent on so many factors and next year I may not come close to 193. Weather is something that changes it a bunch but I will keep getting the cheap tests done and hope one or two gets me in the top positions. I actually got 1st, 7th and 9th in Alfalfa category and 2nd, 11th and 13th in Overall with my other tests.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
@calico190xt - just curious; Regarding the tests you mentioned that scored well and used preservatives, was the type of preservative specified?
They only asked on the entry form was preservative used or not. So, there is no knowledge of the type or brand of preservative. That would be interesting to know.
 
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