High Quality Alfalfa (Also) Comes From North Carolina


High quality alfalfa is produced in North Carolina. It is a fact…!!! For some people, the previous statement may be surprising; however, the quality of alfalfa produced in North Carolina has consistently been recognized in regional hay quality contests, like the Southeastern Hay Contest. Quality, in this case, is defined as the ability of the hay to meet the nutritional demand of livestock. High levels of crude protein (CP) and total digestible nutrients (TND) are desirable.

Records of alfalfa samples from North Carolina placing in the top-3 positions in the Alfalfa Hay category of the Southeastern Hay Contest start in 2015 (Table 1). Since then, North Carolina’s alfalfa samples have consistently placed in the top-3 positions, not skipping a single year. Records of the contest are available online since 2006; however, the Alfalfa Hay category was first set in 2015. From 2006 to 2014, samples of alfalfa and other legumes competed in the same category. A huge exception was the year 2021, where all the top-3 positions in the Alfalfa Hay category were awarded to samples from North Carolina.

Table 1. Alfalfa Hay Category winners. Data retrieved from the Southeasthern Hay Contests website. Highlighted in green are the samples from North Carolina. CP = crude protein; TDN = total digestible nutrients; RFQ = relative forage quality.

A table displaying the winners from 2015-2021 of the South Eastern Hay Contest,Alfalfa Hay Category.

Information that can be inferred from the previous records include:

  1. Out the 118 alfalfa samples total submitted for competition during this 7-yr period of (2015-2021), the winner samples (top-3 positions) come from 11 farms representing six states (Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia).
  2. Sample entries from two farms, one from Georgia and one from North Carolina, are tied, having placed at least four times in the top-3 categories.
    City, State # of times ranked top-3
    Climax, NC 1
    Idalou, TX 1
    Madison, GA 4
    Malone, FL 2
    McKenney, VA 1
    Murrayville, GA 1
    Peachland, NC 4
    Pulaski, TN 1
    Summerville, GA 1
    Taylorsville, NC 3
    Valdese, NC 2
  3. Average crude protein (CP) and total digestible nutrients (TND) were 24% and 71% (n = 21). A distribution of the results is shown in the figures below.

A distribution graft of crude protein in Alfalfa Hay by state.

A distribution graft of total digestible nutrients in Alfalfa Hay by state.

Following the contest’s motto, “prove your hay is the best”, this data further proves the high quality of the alfalfa that is produced in North Carolina.