Growers of high quality forage will be rewarded with cash prizes in the 2012 World Ag Expo Forage Challenge, presented by Mycogen Seeds. The competition challenges farmers and ranchers in 11 Western states to enter their best alfalfa hay, standard corn silage or brown midrib (BMR) corn silage to honor those who produce the highest-quality forages in the West. The deadline to enter is Dec. 15.

"With today's high grain prices, it's more important than ever to produce high quality forages for dairy rations," says Greg Cannon, Mycogen Seeds forage product marketing specialist. "Mycogen Seeds is pleased to support this program to recognize and encourage high-quality forage growers."

To enter the 2012 World Ag Expo Forage Challenge, presented by Mycogen Seeds, forage growers are encouraged to take samples of their best standard corn silage, BMR corn silage and alfalfa hay grown in 2011. The contest is administered in part by the University of California, Davis which coordinates sample testing, contest judging and educates producers about the benefits of producing high quality forages.

"While high yields are very important for profitable hay and silage production, attaining high quality is a close second," says Dan Putnam, UC Davis forage specialist. "Hay and forage quality has improved substantially over the past 40 years in major dairy regions, where dairy producers and cash hay producers have discovered the impacts of improved forage quality on milk production."

Up to $18,000 in cash prizes, sponsored by Lallemand Animal Nutrition, will be awarded based on forage lab analyses and a visual evaluation of entries by dairy nutrition and forage production experts.

"While current high feed costs have increased interest in forage quality, the quality of forages available to feed has always been one of the key determinants of profitability. Raising the awareness of this has been the major reason for our continuing involvement in the WAE Forage Challenge," said Dr. Robert Charley, forage product manager, Lallemand Animal Nutrition.

Cost to enter the 2012 World Ag Expo Forage Challenge is $25 per entry. All forage samples must be submitted to UC Davis for judging by December 15. Entry forms and full contest rules can be found online at: http://www.worldagexpo.com/General-Info/Forage+Challenge.htm. The winner of the contest will be announced on Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012 at World Ag Expo.

"High quality forage is vital to our industry and we're proud to provide an outlet for forage growers to showcase their products," said Patty Colson, 2012 World Ag Expo chairman. "Our hope is that the Forage Challenge will provide a competitive venue for growers while educating anyone interested in learning about high quality forages."