OH, HAY! This Georgia farmer knows how to make award-winning hay

Bartow County Farm Bureau member Franklin Dowell won the 2023 Georgia Farm Bureau Hay Contest for his outstanding hay production.

After a 25-year journey, Franklin Dowell, of Bartow County, Ga., has finally won the Georgia Farm Bureau Hay Contest.

Dowell has more than two decades of experience in hay production, and it has finally paid off for him. He says, after numerous close victories, it was quite an honor to finally win the GFB award.

“I’ve put hay samples in the contest probably five or six years previous,” Dowell said. “I’ve been close, but never [won]. This is the first time, so it’s pretty amazing.”

Dowell earned the title with a sample of Jiggs Bermuda, which is not commonly grown in Georgia. His sample was named the best among 30 samples submitted to this year’s contest.

As the top winner in the hay contest, Dowell received a year’s use of a new baler with the option to purchase it at a reduced price at the end of the year.

The GFB Hay Commodity Committee has held the annual Quality Hay Contest since 1992. The purpose of the contest is to promote quality hay production and to encourage superior Bermudagrass hay production across the state. According to GFB Hay Advisory Committee Chair Harry Thompson, maintaining high-quality hay is vital when it comes to marketing it.

“We feel like that if we can encourage our producers to spend a little extra time and incorporate some good cultural practices and production of hay that it’s going to enhance our value and enhance our reputation as a quality hay producer,” Thompson said.

The Georgia Farm Bureau’s website says any eligible producers who enter the quality hay contest also receive a free listing in the State bureau’s hay directory.