NCGA picks ’20 winners for annual yield contest
Managing through wide variability in weather, regional corn growers posted respectable yields in the National Corn Growers Association’s national yield contest.
Aside from the contest rankings and associated prizes, growers said participating in the contest is helpful in improving production across their whole farm, beyond small contest entries.
“To me the contest is not so much a feather in the cap, when indeed it is,” said Studley, Va., farmer Grayson Kirby, who placed first in the Virginia Conventional Non-Irrigated division. “It’s rewarding to be recognized for the desire to be the best you can be at something. I want to be better each and every year, not saying, ‘Hey look at me, but to profit, to be profitable.”
Kirby said while much of his corn acres suffered under the summer’s drought, the field where his contest entry was taken was spared.
“It was good land and it got rainfall,” he said. “I can’t say it all went that way. I missed a lot more than I hit.”
Harford County, Md., farmer John Rigdon was the only farmer from the Delmarva states to place in the national contest, getting third place in the Strip, Min, Mulch, Ridge-Till Non-Irrigated division. Sons Harrison and Chad also had entries placing in the state contest.
John Rigdon said a wet spring delayed planting by about a week and then it turned dry the end of June and July with high temperatures late in the summer. Rain was hit or miss on his fields, he added, noting the field where his contest entry was taken received five more inches of rain than the fields at his home farm, less than 10 miles away.
In Smyrna, Del., Mark Wilson said the wet spring narrowed their planting window, too, and heavy rains in the fall brought harvest challenges.
“This fall, it wasn’t easy at harvest but we made it through,” he said. “You’ve got to be able to adjust to whatever circumstances you’re faced with,” Wilson said. “That’s what makes farmers who they are.”
Wilson, who placed in the Delaware contest along with son Benjamin and brother Dennis, said the weather this season reinforced some of their nutrient management practices, using anhydrous ammonia and a controlled release fertilizer for feeding nitrogen during the season.
“With all the rain and weather variability, we were able to keep a little more nitrogen available to the plant,” he said. “I think we ended up with more in the plant, that’s where want it.”
Rigdon said for at least the past 10 years, they have focused on a planting depth of 2.5 to 3 inches, which he said may delay emergence but makes a more uniform stand and healthier plants.
“In my opinion, it’s hard to plant corn too deep,” he said.
The National Corn Yield Contest is in its 56th year and remains NCGA’s most popular program for members. Don Stall, Charlotte, Mich., produced the highest yield in the contest with a yield of 476.9052 bushels per acre.
The 27 national winners in 9 production categories had verified yields averaging more than 345.9948 bushels per acre, compared to the projected national average of 175 bushels per acre nationwide. Entries come from a small sample in the field selected by growers and usually aren’t indicative of field averages.
Many growers use the contest as a type of field laboratory, testing new products and growing practices to see what can be applied across a whole field or farm for better yield and economic return.
“You’ve always got to keep tweaking things, you know, to get better,” Rigdon said. “If you’re not trying new things, you’re probably missing out.”
The local growers said the value in participating in the contest is learning from other growers who are also focused on improvement.
“It keeps your mind looking and seeing what other producers from around the state and throughout the U.S. are doing to bring their cost per bushel down,” Wilson said.
Contest winners are traditionally honored in March during Commodity Classic, where thousands of farmers from across the United States gather for education and fellowship. With the convention moving to a virtual format in 2021, NCGA is working with sponsors to find an alternative means to recognize the accomplishments of yield contest winners.
“The biggest thing we get out of it is the communication and contacts that you make and meet from all over the country,” Rigdon said. “That has probably helped us more than anything with the contest entries.”
Here are the state winners for Delaware, Maryland and Virginia listed by name of entrant, town, hybrid and yield.
1. Bill Alfree, Middletown, DEKALB DKC64-87RIB, 281.4622
1. Alan Garey, Felton, Channel 219-77VT2PRIB, 238.8068
2. G. Dennis Wilson, Smyrna, DEKALB DKC62-53RIB, 237.4903
3. Aaron R. Thompson, Hartly, Channel 218-44VT2PRIB, 234.4400
1. Gary C. Ockels, Milton, DEKALB DKC63-91RIB, 278.8221
2. Mark Collins, Laurel, DEKALB DKC65-95RIB, 257.2932
1. Michael Wicks, Middletown, Pioneer P1847AML, 260.7464
2. B. Mark Wilson, Smyrna, Pioneer P1442AM, 222.9955
3. Ben M. Wilson Jr., Smyrna, DEKALB DKC65-95RIB, 222.7059
1. Brenda J. Walsh, Hampstead, AgriGold A647-46 STX, 265.0861
2. Brad D. Rill, Hampstead, Mid-Atlantic Seeds MA8128 VT2P, 259.5376
1. Drew Haines, Middletown, DEKALB DKC68-69RIB, 324.1849
2. Harrison Rigdon, Jarrettsville, DEKALB DKC64-35RIB, 320.6821
3. Chad Rigdon, Jarrettsville, DEKALB DKC62-52RIB, 286.4171
Strip, Min, Mulch, Ridge-Till
1. John A. Rigdon, Jarrettsville, DEKALB DKC65-95RIB, 324.0153
2. Chris Weaver, Finksburg, AgriGold A6499 STXRIB, 266.8401
3. Thomas W. Walsh, Hampstead, AgriGold A647-46 STX, 264.0395
1. Grant Smith, Keyser, Pioneer P1197AM, 296.5946
2. Bruce Bartz, Denton, DEKALB DKC62-53RIB, 278.1959
3. Dan K. Dulin, Queen Anne, Pioneer P1197AM, 232.9054
Strip, Min, Mulch,
1. Brian Tull, Seaford, DEKALB DKC63-91RIB, 277.7971
2. Christopher Davis, Galena, Pioneer P1506AM, 274.4015
3. Allen Davis, Galena, Pioneer P1213AM, 262.4674
1. Duncan Smith, Keyser, Pioneer P1197AM, 288.6009
2. Catherine G. Bostic, Church Hill, AgriGold A641-06 VT2RIB, 272.8811
3. Michael R. Bostic Sr. Church Hill, Pioneer P1847AML, 264.0474
1. Grayson W. Kirby, Mechanicsville, Axis 65D28, 262.4880
2. Ryan Horsley, Virginia Beach, DEKALB DKC70-27, 233.5013
1. Ben Williams, Swoope, DEKALB DKC64-35RIB, 286.4404
2. Billy French, Woodstock, DEKALB DKC64-34RIB, 272.9121
3. Guy Gochenour, Woodstock, DEKALB DKC68-69RIB, 271.0090
Strip, Min, Mulch, Ridge-Till Non-Irrigated
1. Monte Heatwole, McGaheysville, Pioneer P1077AM, 273.6493
2. Timmy French, Woodstock, DEKALB DKC70-27RIB, 267.6967
3. Christopher Tyler Warner, Wakefield, DEKALB DKC68-69, 258.2810
1. J.R. Newcomb, Hanover, Pioneer P1197AM, 279.4428
2. Robert (Robbie) Newcomb, Hanover, Pioneer P1903YHR, 272.3945
3. Joseph A. Stephenson, Wakefield, DEKALB DKC66-18, 270.3079
H: Strip, Min, Mulch, Ridge-Till
1. Anita Heatwole, McGaheysville, Pioneer P1847AML, 269.6996
2. LaVonne Heatwole, McGaheysville, Pioneer P1077AM, 266.9300
3. Gerald Heatwole, McGaheysville, Pioneer P1283AM, 248.9229
1. Brett Wightman, Mount Jackson, DEKALB DKC70-27RIB, 282.8923
2. Patrick C. Newcomb, Hanover, Pioneer P1197AM, 280.2709
3. Robbie Newcomb, Hanover, Pioneer P1903YHR, 274.6250.
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