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Smells like baleage . . . Riversdale Lions Club hay and baleage drive judges (from left) John Butler, Campbell Humphrey and Nicol Gray check the quality of a bale of baleage. PHOTO:SANDY EGGLESTON

A swede that weighed equivalent of about 18 blocks of butter took first place in the Riversdale Lions Club annual hay and baleage drive.

The competition has been run as a fundraiser for the club since 1976.

Competition convener Rhys Houghton said for the second year running, Wendonside farmer Alastair Mann had grown the heaviest swede for the competition with a bulb that weighed 8.8kg.

“It was impressive,” Mr Houghton said.

The items in the drive were judged and then auctioned.

“In the auction there was very good strong bidding.”

It was the sixth year Mr Houghton had been convening the competition and he was happy with the 184 entries which were down 13 on last year.

Entries for the small bale hay competition were slightly down on last year.

“Entries for the baleage were on a par with last year’s.”

The competition had started as a hay drive 44 years ago when the conventional hay bale was the only method of preserving grass and other crops for the winter.

“It’s developed from the small conventional bales to the bigger round bale and then to the bales being wrapped.”

About $17,000 was raised at the event.

“It’s been a very successful hay drive.”

The club was grateful for the support of Andrews Transport, the farmers who donated items, and sponsors.

Club president Barry Winwood said the auction was boosted by an unexpected donation from Waimea Waipounamu Contracting.

“[They] kindly donated 40 bales of straw gesture,” Mr Winwood said.

Money raised this year would go towards youth and medical projects, he said.

Judge Campbell Humphrey said farmers struggled to make high-quality baleage in the summer because of the wet weather.

“It’s been a good red clover year, though, so there should be clover in the bales.

“Any late baleage was probably the better quality.”