by Courtney Llewellyn
Food, artwork and livestock weren’t the only things on display and being judged at the 2018 Great New York State Fair in Syracuse, NY. One of the quieter competitions is for the best hay in the state.
This year’s entries were judged on Saturday, Aug. 25 and were kept on display until the end of the fair on Monday, Sept. 3. Hay and Forage Superintendent Sam Weber of Mexico, NY, oversees the competition every year. Entries judged are in the conventional and organic forage and grain divisions.
Exhibitors may enter as many classes as they wish, but no exhibitor could submit more than one entry per class in their own name, the name of a farm or the name of some other person. Each specimen could be entered in one class only.
For the conventional hay category, the entry had to be planted prior to 2018. The submissions were judged on physical features including lack of mold/odor, freedom of foreign material, maturity, leaf retention and color, as well as a forage quality analysis provided by DairyOne Forage Lab (which looked at dry matter, neutral detergent fiber, crude protein and digestible neutral detergent fiber).
The DairyOne Forage Lab, located in Ithaca, NY, uses Near Infrared Reflectance spectroscopy (NIR), “a sophisticated technique for rapidly analyzing common forages and grains,” according to the lab’s website. “Multiple components are determined simultaneously, making results available within 24 hours of receipt by the lab. Dairy One offers the most comprehensive NIR analysis available, making it our most popular service and the choice of feed industry professionals.”
Winners in the various conventional hay classes included Alfalfa – first cutting Daniluk Farm & Stables, Camillus; Alfalfa – later cuttings Douglas Wolfe, Richfield, and John B. Adams, Alton; Alfalfa – grass mix – first cutting Steve Nemec, Moravia; Alfalfa – grass mix – later cutting John Nemec, Moravia, and Steve Nemec, Moravia; Grass – first cutting Jeff Johnson, Brooktondale and Steve Nemec, Moravia; Grass – later cutting Dan Twentyman, Tully; and Other species (other than grass and alfalfa such as red clover, trefoil, etc.) John B. Adams, Alton. Adams was the Conventional Hay Grand Champion; Reserve Champion was Twentyman.
Organic hay was judged by the same criteria, plus by its chemical features, determined by chemical analysis. Organic Hay Grand Champion Dan Twentyman of Tully also won the Grass – first cutting, Grass – later cutting and Other species (other than grass and alfalfa such as red clover, trefoil, etc.) classes.
Of course, if an entrant’s hay didn’t win any awards, there was always the hay bale throwing contest at the fair to let off some steam…