Corey Farrens from Madison County was the Ohio Corn Yield Contest winner. He received a 1-year free lease on an Unverferth Seed Tender. The award was presented by Ohio Corn & Wheat Board member Dennis Vennekotter, Ohio Corn & Wheat executive director Tadd Nicholson and Craig Unverferth with Unverferth Manufacturing Co., Inc. at the Celebration of Ohio Corn & Wheat. Photo by Jessy Woodworth, Ohio Corn & Wheat.

Big yields have growers excited to plant in 2024

By Matt Reese and Dusty Sonnenberg

The 2023 growing season produced some amazing corn and wheat yields across the state. The Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers annually coordinate the Ohio Corn Yield Contest and the Ohio Wheat Yield Contest. Many of the top winners gathered for the Celebration of Ohio Corn & Wheat in Bucyrus in February.

“We run these side by side with the national contests and we recognize Ohio’s yield contest participants at this event,” said Brad Moffitt with Ohio Corn & Wheat. “One interesting fact is we’ve got irrigated corn in Ohio, but an irrigated entry has never won our contest. It’s always been a non-irrigated or what the contest calls dryland entry. This year Corey Farrens hit 340.4 bushels per acre. He is near South Solon in Madison County. Corey Atley down in Greene County still holds the record at 360+ bushels per acre. We have a 300-bushel club to give recognition to every contestant that hits 300 or higher. We had 21 of our entrants hit 300 or higher. We do the same on wheat with a 100-bushel club.”

Farrens planted DEKALB DKC63-91RIB in the Conventional Non-Irrigated category. Farrens, along with his agronomist from Nutrien Ag Solutions, Scott Spelman, shared about the past growing season, never letting the corn have a bad day, and the team approach it took to get to the top corn yield in the contest in 2024.

“We had really good luck. We had the best weather we could have had and it was planted in some really good, black, systematically tiled ground,” Farrens said. “We put it in the best spot we could obviously, so it had every opportunity to do well. It was harvested at 22% moisture on Oct. 17.And the best thing I can say is to surround yourself with good people. That’s where Scott came in and helped.”

The corn was planted May 12 at a population of 39,000 per acre.

“We kind of chose that population just because the soil types can handle it and there was adequate moisture at planting time. We made that decision ahead of time but it seconded that thought when conditions were right at planting,” Spelman said. “The ground was very mellow. Emergence was key to this whole thing and then we really pushed nutrients at the later stages of growth and it really paid off.”

Fungicide applications were another part of the equation.

“There were three different fungicide applications and it was all based on timing from V5 all the way through brown silk. We used BASF materials because we’ve had experience with them and we were comfortable with them. The plant really needed to be healthy and thriving. We looked at the GDUs, we looked at growth and we stayed ahead of the curve,” Spelman said. “We never saw a deficiency. We never saw a disease, but we wanted to keep that plant thriving throughout the growing season and not having a bad day.”

Moisture and moderate temperatures also played an important role.

“There were cool days, we had a long growing season and we had adequate rainfall towards the end. For the first 30 days, we didn’t have much rain. I think we had four tenths from planting to about June 15,” Spelman said. “Then going from June 15 on to end of July was about 4.5 inches, but we never had the big rain events, so that really helped us along. And then in August we got really good moisture, again never big rain events, and that really helped finish the crop out. It was a really nice surprise to see where it landed and just to be able to follow the crop throughout the year was really fun.”

Runner-up in the Ohio Corn Yield Contest was Don Jackson of Preble County with 324.7-bushel corn. Farrens and Jackson were also winners in the National Corn Yield Contest. Farrens was third nationally in the Conventional Non-irrigated Class and Jackson was third in the Strip-till Non-irrigated Class.

The youngest top finisher was Lincoln Winner, a junior in high school from the Versailles FFA Chapter with an impressive 322-bushel entry with a 110-day Golden Harvest hybrid.

Young Lincoln Winner from Darke County had an impressive 322-bushel entry in the Ohio Corn Yield Contest. Photo by Jessy Woodworth, Ohio Corn & Wheat.

“It just takes a lot of hard work and it feels really awesome now that the hard work paid off, knowing that you did a good job and placed in the state,” Winner said. “It was great weather in Ohio to be raising corn this year so we were pretty grateful for the weather. We had pretty good rains throughout the year with no real dry spells.”

The corn received nitrogen at planting and sidedress along with cattle and poultry manure for additional nutrients. Fungicides were applied as well.

Here are the other winners from the Ohio Corn Yield Contest

Ohio Corn Yield Contest, 2023 Winners

District 1         1          Anthony Hertzfeld      Lucas              293.01             Dekalb

                        2          Aaron Stuckey            Fulton              290.77             Pioneer

District 2         1          Mike Keys                  Wood               283.89             Pioneer

                        2          Jake Rothert                Ottawa            282.74             Golden Harvest

District 3         1          Ken Gerten                 Putnam            277.09             FS Invision

                        2          Ron Montgomery       Allen               272.37             FS Invision

District 4         1          Blake Sims                  Marion            306.20             AgriGold

                        2          Steve & Tim Reinhard Crawford       284.57             Dekalb

District 5         1          Jim & Lori Dauch       Huron              324.13, 312.38 Pioneer

                        2          Keith & Kent Edwards Erie                302.81             Pioneer

District 6         1          Don Jackson               Preble              324.70             Dekalb

                        2          Lincoln Winner           Darke              322.14             Golden Harvest

District 7         1          Corey Farrens             Madison          340.46             Seed Consultants

                        2          Luke Haerr                  Clark               314.74             Pioneer

District 8         1          Kyle Croft                   Coshocton       300.30, 295.76 Dekalb

                        2          Beth Colburn              Ross                287.38             Dekalb

District 9         1          Nathan Ewing             Pike                 319.58             Pioneer

                        2          Andrew Bond             Clinton            318.52             Pioneer

Contestants making the 300-Bushel Club were: Nathan Ewing, Andrew Bond, Neal Bond, Jason Grant, Gary Mason, Kyle Croft, Corey Farrens, Luke Haerr, Justin Haerr, Scott Haerr, Kevin Mattinson, Jeff Hostetler, Connor Headings, Don Jackson, Lincoln Winner, Brett Kenworthy, Jim Dauch, Lori Dauch, Keith Edwards, Kent Edwards, Blake Sims. 

The seed brands represented in the contest were: Dyna-Gro, Pioneer, Seed Consultants, Dekalb, Seed Genetics Direct, FS Invision, AgriGold, Brevant Seeds, Channel, LG Seeds, Golden Harvest, NK Brand, Beck’s Hybrids, Stewart Seeds, Ebbert’s, Croplan, Biogene, and Epley’s, Specialty Hybrids.

Jim and Lori Dauch, from Huron County, had winning yields in both corn and wheat. Jim was the runner-up in the Ohio Wheat Yield Contest with 162-bushel entry. Jim also had a 324-bushel entry and Lori had a 312-bushel entry in the Ohio Corn Yield Contest. They were presented awards by Ohio Corn & Wheat Board member Dennis Vennekotter and Ohio Corn & Wheat executive director Tadd Nicholson at the Celebration of Ohio Corn & Wheat. Photo by Jessy Woodworth, Ohio Corn & Wheat.

Ohio’s winning wheat growers were also recognized after an extremely successful 2023 growing season for yields in the contest. Here are the results.

Ohio Wheat Yield Contest, 2023 Winners

State Winner: Kent Edwards Castalia, Erie Co., 169.4 bu., Pioneer            

State Runner-up: Jim Dauch, Bellevue, Huron Co., 162.21 bu., Pioneer

Third: Doug Dawson, Delaware Co., 151.96 bu., AgriMaxx

Fourth: Luke Swaim, Greene Co., 151.88 bu., Croplan

Fifth: Eric Kesler, Clark Co., 150.15 bu., Agri-Pro

Sixth: Richard Clifton, Pickaway Co., 147.94 bu., Beck’s

Seventh: Steve Downing, Allen Co., 145.62 bu., Wellman Seeds

Eighth: John Carroll, Ross Co., 143.76 bu., Pioneer

Ninth: Aaron Stuckey, Fulton Co., 140.12 bu., Pioneer

Tenth: Jim Bethel, Madison Co., 140.07 bu., Seed Consultants

National winner: Kent Edwards, Castalia, Erie County, third place — Dryland Winter Wheat, 169.4 bu/ac, Pioneer

The 24 contestants making the 100-Bushel Club were: Leon Burkholder, Eric Richer, Dave Cunningham, Brian Rufenacht, David Lutz, Doug Goyings, Dan Schwartz, Brian Sutorius, Anthony Stuckey, Greg Griffin, Bill Schroeder, Martin Quigley, David Zielger, Michael Puckrin, Jim Bethel, Aaron Stuckey, John Carroll, Steve Downing, Richard Clifton, Eric Kesler, Luke Swaim, Doug Dawson, Jim Dauch, Kent Edwards.

The seed brands represented in the contest were: Great Harvest, Pioneer, AgriMaxx, Strike, Seed Consultants, Dyna-Gro, Ohio Certified Seed, Wellman Seeds, Becks, Agri-Pro, and Croplan.

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