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For good corn yields, it starts with soil

The National Corn Yield Contest broke records again.

Chris Torres

December 18, 2023

5 Min Read
A tractor-trailer being filled with corn grain
BIN BUSTERS: Local growers scored some impressive yields in this year’s National Corn Yield Contest. The national overall winner, David Hula of Charles City, Va., set another record with 623.84 bushels per acre.dusanpetkovic/Getty Images

After a relatively lackluster National Corn Yield Contest in 2022, growers set the world on fire this past year — with David Hula of Charles City, Va., setting another record for yield with 623.84 bushels per acre, besting a previous record he set of 616.19 bushels.

But local growers put up some impressive yields, too. Bob and Sharon Santini, who farm about 4,000 acres of corn and soybeans in Stewartsville, N.J., won first place in the Strip, Min, Mulch, Ridge-Till Non-Irrigated category with a yield of 342.4 bushels per acre. They grew Pioneer P0035AM in their plot.

“All the yields were good this year, real good. It all clicked. Some people think the smoke helped,” Bob Santini, who has been farming on his own since 1972, says with a laugh.

While he won’t give away the “magic potion” he uses for his superior yield, Santini says it starts with having good, clay, loamy soils and applying some chicken litter. “The ground here is very good, very good for yields,” he says.

He planted the plot the first week of May and harvested it at the end of October, with a rye cover crop planted afterward. “I was in there a couple of times a week, applying fertilizers, fungicides, herbicides,” he says.

“I’ve been doing this my whole life,” he says with a laugh. “It’s a farmer thing, I guess, to see that corn growing through the season. I guess somebody else would be going to a concert or something, but that’s just me on my farm. I’d sleep through a concert.”

Growing a good-yielding crop must run in the family, or maybe the area. Scott Truszkowski, who farms ground only a mile away, was right behind Santini in the same category, scoring second place with a yield of 323.75 bushels per acre, growing Dyna-Gro D55VC80RIB.

Bob Santini’s cousin Sam, also from Stewartsville, N.J., placed third in the Conventional, Non-irrigated category with 342.88 bushels per acre, growing Pioneer 14830AML.

Corey Farrens of South Solon, Ohio, got third place in the Conventional, Non-Irrigated category for Corn Belt states with a yield of 340.46 bushels per acre, growing Dekalb DKC63-91RIB.

Temple Rhodes of Centreville, Md., won the Conventional Irrigated category with a yield of 375.67 bushels per acre, growing Dekalb DKC63-91RIB.

Two local growers took second and third place in the No-Till, Non-Irrigated category. James C. Justice of New Zion, W.Va., got second place with 324.90 bushels per acre, growing Dekalb DKC62-08. Julia Rigdon of Jarrettsville, Md., got third place with 324.55 bushels per acre, growing Dekalb DKC59-82RIB.

Don Jackson of Camden, Ohio, got third place in the Strip, Min, Mulch, Ridge-Till Non-Irrigated category for Corn Belt states with a yield of 324.70 bushels per acre, growing Dekalb DKC66-06RIB.

Here’s the complete list of first-place winners by state and category from the region:

Connecticut

Conventional Non-Irrigated

Mike Logue, Woodbury, Channel 210-46STXRIB, 232.75 bushels

No-Till, Non-Irrigated

Louis Herman Lipton Somers, Channel 207-27STXRIB, 274.65 bushels

Strip, Min, Mulch, Ridge-Till Non-Irrigated

Jacob Lipton, Somers, Channel 207-27STXRIB, 267.96 bushels

No-Till Irrigated

Keith Christadore, Hampton, Channel 207-27STXRIB, 264.04 bushels

Strip, Min, Mulch, Ridge-Till Irrigated

Jeffrey M. Lipton, Somers, Channel 207-27STXRIB, 263.04 bushels

Delaware

Conventional Non-Irrigated

Bill Alfree, Middletown, Dekalb DKC65-95RIB, 309.60 bushels

No-Till, Non-Irrigated

Aaron R. Thompson, Hartly, Channel 214-78DGVT2PRIB, 271.04 bushels

Strip, Min, Mulch, Ridge-Till Non-Irrigated

Joshua R. Messick, Lincoln, Pioneer P17677AM, 262.31 bushels

No-Till Irrigated

Kenneth Stevenson III, Milton, Dekalb DKC62-70RIB, 322.81 bushels

Strip, Min, Mulch, Ridge-Till Irrigated

Mark Collins, Laurel, Dekalb DKC63-91RIB, 319.69 bushels

Conventional Irrigated

Michael Wicks, Middletown, Dyna-Gro D54VC34RIB, 312.11 bushels

Massachusetts

Conventional Non-Irrigated

Dan Llewelyn, Northfield, Channel 199-115STXRIB, 281.01 bushels

No-Till, Non-Irrigated

Wanda Llewelyn, Northfield, Channel 203-70TRERIB, 309.08 bushels

Strip, Min, Mulch, Ridge-Till Non-Irrigated

Pat Wysocki, Hadley, Channel 203-70TRERIB, 244.29 bushels

No-Till, Irrigated

Gene Kosinski, Westfield, Channel 203-70TRERIB, 309.05 bushels

Strip, Min, Mulch, Ridge-Till Irrigated

Sarah Henry, Westfield, Channel 206-16SSPRIB, 287.21 bushels

Conventional, Irrigated

William Edward Llewelyn, Northfield, Channel 199-29STXRIB, 313.77 bushels

Maryland

Conventional, Non-Irrigated

Andrea Rigdon, Jarrettsville, Dekalb DKC62-70RIB, 321.75 bushels

No-Till, Non-Irrigated

Julia Rigdon, Jarrettsville, Dekalb DKC59-82RIB, 324.55 bushels

Strip, Min, Mulch, Ridge-Till Non-Irrigated

Harrison Rigdon, Jarrettsville, Dekalb DKC59-82RIB, 312.04 bushels

No-Till, Irrigated

Bruce Bartz, Denton, Dekalb DKC63-91RIB, 317.88 bushels

Strip, Min, Mulch, Ridge-Till Irrigated

Stanley Moore, Sudlersville, Axis 64B28, 301.98 bushels

Conventional Irrigated

Temple Rhodes, Centreville, Dekalb DKC63-91RIB, 375.67 bushels

Maine

Conventional, Non-Irrigated

Tyler G. Bartlett, New Gloucester, Channel 189-64VT2PRIB, 186.24 bushels

Strip, Min, Mulch, Ridge-Till Non-Irrigated

James Hilton, Norridgewock, Channel 185-30STXRIB, 203.05 bushels

No-Till, Irrigated

Matthew John Blodget, New Gloucester, Channel 189-64STXRIB, 220.04 bushels

Conventional, Irrigated

Tim Bartlett, New Gloucester, Channel 189-64VT2PRIB, 198.91 bushels

Michigan

Conventional, Non-Irrigated

Randy Eschenburg, Almont, Dekalb DKC101-35RIB, 302.16 bushels

No-Till, Non-Irrigated

Matt Scharl, Bangor, Dekalb DKC59-82RIB, 276.76 bushels

Strip, Min, Mulch, Ridge-Till Non-Irrigated

William Fein, Hopkins, Dekalb DKC59-82RIB, 288.08 bushels

No-Till, Irrigated

Scott McKeown, Middleville, Pioneer P0953AM, 306.14 bushels

Strip, Min, Mulch, Ridge-Till Irrigated

T. Jon Drozd, Allegan, Pioneer P1506YHR, 324.96 bushels

Conventional Irrigated

Jake Drozd, Allegan, Pioneer P0953AM, 347.38 bushels

New Hampshire

Conventional, Non-Irrigated

William Llewelyn, Northfield, Channel 199-11STXRIB, 280.47 bushels

No-Till, Non-Irrigated

Mary E. Llewelyn, Northfield, Channel 197-90STXRIB, 236.63 bushels

Strip, Min, Mulch, Ridge-Till Non-Irrigated

Frederick Llewelyn, Northfield, Channel 199-29STXRIB, 296.60 bushels

Conventional Irrigated

Jack Letourneau, Northfield, Channel 199-29STXRIB, 258.52 bushels

New Jersey

Conventional, Non-Irrigated

Sam Santini, Stewartsville, Pioneer P14830AML, 342.88 bushels

No-Till, Non-Irrigated

Kelly Truszkowski, Stewartsville, Dyna-Gro D54VC34RIB, 307.01 bushels

Strip, Min, Mulch, Ridge-Till Non-Irrigated

Sharon Santini, Phillipsburg, Pioneer P0035AM, 342.40 bushels

No-Till, Irrigated

Matt Santini, Phillipsburg, Pioneer P0035AM, 336.37 bushels

Strip, Min, Mulch, Ridge-Till Irrigated

Michelle M. Santini, Phillipsburg, Pioneer P0035AM, 328.15 bushels

Conventional Irrigated

Robert A. Santini Jr., Phillipsburg, Pioneer P1197AM, 290.08 bushels

New York

Conventional, Non-Irrigated

Dale McCollum, Gasport, Channel 203-70TRERIB, 276.35 bushels

No-Till, Non-Irrigated

Bernie Townsend, Canastota, Pioneer P0035Q, 251.91 bushels

Strip, Min, Mulch, Ridge-Till Non-Irrigated

Matthew Swede, Piffard, Dekalb DKC58-64RIB, 278.69 bushels

Strip, Min, Mulch, Ridge-Till Irrigated

Thomas W. Jeffres, Wyoming, Pioneer P0947Q, 277.14 bushels

Conventional Irrigated

Paul Campbell, Nichols, Dekalb DKC56-65RIB, 235.84 bushels

Ohio

Conventional, Non-Irrigated

Corey Farrens, South Solon, Dekalb DKC63-91RIB, 340.46 bushels

No-Till, Non-Irrigated

Lori Dauch, Bellevue, Pioneer P1197AM, 312.38 bushels

Strip, Min, Mulch, Ridge-Till Non-Irrigated

Don Jackson, Camden, Dekalb DKC66-06RIB, 324.70 bushels

No-Till, Irrigated

Luke Haerr, Springfield, Pioneer P0953AM, 314.74 bushels

Strip, Min, Mulch, Ridge-Till Irrigated

Justin Haerr, Springfield, Pioneer P1587Q, 298.92 bushels

Conventional, Irrigated

Nathan Ewing, Waverly, Pioneer P1383AM, 319.58 bushels

Pennsylvania

Conventional, Non-Irrigated

Jess A. Powell, Greenville, Dekalb DKC56-26RIB, 302.15 bushels

No-Till, Non-Irrigated

Zach Alger, Annville, Dekalb DKC66-06RIB, 318.34 bushels

Strip, Min, Mulch, Ridge-Till Non-Irrigated

Daryl L. Alger, Lebanon, Dekalb DKC66-06RIB, 319.04 bushels

No-Till, Irrigated

Dawson Mast, Morgantown, Pioneer P1136AM, 299.12 bushels

Strip, Min, Mulch, Ridge-Till Irrigated

Tracy J. Scipioni, Newmanstown, Pioneer P1608AM, 273.94 bushels

Conventional, Irrigated

Daryl L. Alger, Lebanon, Dekalb DKC64-22, 324.33 bushels

Vermont

No-Till, Non-Irrigated

Jacob Bourdeau, Sheldon, Pioneer P0487Q, 262.06 bushels

Strip, Min, Mulch, Ridge-Till Non-Irrigated

Rene Bourdeau, Swanton, Pioneer P9823Q, 298.03 bushels

Conventional, Irrigated

Brian Llewelyn, Northfield, Channel 199-11STXRIB, 276.47 bushels

West Virginia

Conventional, Non-Irrigated

Duncan Smith, Keyser, Pioneer P1089AM, 275.53 bushels

No-Till, Non-Irrigated

James C. Justice, New Zion, Dekalb DKC62-08, 324.90 bushels

Strip, Min, Mulch, Ridge-Till Non-Irrigated

Ronald L. Widmyer, Charles Town, Pioneer P1170AM, 206.03 bushels

No-Till, Irrigated

Todd Widmyer, Charles Town, Pioneer P1289AM, 244.19 bushels

Strip, Min, Mulch, Ridge-Till Irrigated

Grant Smith, Keyser, Pioneer P1136AM, 336.24 bushels

Conventional, Irrigated

Duncan Smith, Keyser, Pioneer P0924Q, 314.49 bushels

About the Author(s)

Chris Torres

Editor, American Agriculturist

Chris Torres, editor of American Agriculturist, previously worked at Lancaster Farming, where he started in 2006 as a staff writer and later became regional editor. Torres is a seven-time winner of the Keystone Press Awards, handed out by the Pennsylvania Press Association, and he is a Pennsylvania State University graduate.

Torres says he wants American Agriculturist to be farmers' "go-to product, continuing the legacy and high standard (former American Agriculturist editor) John Vogel has set." Torres succeeds Vogel, who retired after 47 years with Farm Progress and its related publications.

"The news business is a challenging job," Torres says. "It makes you think outside your small box, and you have to formulate what the reader wants to see from the overall product. It's rewarding to see a nice product in the end."

Torres' family is based in Lebanon County, Pa. His wife grew up on a small farm in Berks County, Pa., where they raised corn, soybeans, feeder cattle and more. Torres and his wife are parents to three young boys.

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