Corn farmer encourages others to compete in 2023 Yield Contests
For Jeff Koelzer, dryland winner of the 2022 Kansas Corn Yield Contest, competing in the National and Kansas Corn Yield Contests helps him improve as a farmer. Outside of Onaga, he farms a little over 4,000 acres with his father, his brothers and his sons, growing high-yielding corn and soybeans and managing a cow-calf herd. Registration for the contests is now open and Koelzer says he looks forward to competing. He says entering the yield contest does take some extra time and work, but since entries into the Kansas and national contests are combined, it’s easier than ever.
“I’m really happy with how Kansas Corn changed the format to follow the National Corn Yield Contest so it’s simple,” Koelzer said. “It’s all the same entry. And many seed companies will pay your KCGA membership and entry fees so get a little back from them and let them invest in you.”
Koelzer’s passion for farming and improving his yields is shown through his history with the Kansas and National Corn Yield Contests. For the last two years, Koelzer has won the award for overall dryland yield in the Kansas Corn Yield Contest. This past year, his entry of Dekalb DKC65-84RIB yielded 308.96 bushels per acre. And on the national level, he has won the Kansas state title in the “Strip-Till, Minimum-Till, Mulch-Till, Ridge-Till Non-Irrigated” category for the last five years straight.
The Koelzer family has sold Asgrow-Dekalb corn seed for five decades, and Jeff is the manager of seed sales for the family farm. Back in 2009, Koelzer recalls talking to Fred Nell, who encouraged him to compete.
“He’s like, man you got some of the best dirt that I’ve ever seen, and I was like oh, whatever,” Koelzer said. “But he insists that I do and said we need to experiment and try some new things. So, I competed my first year in the national contest and won first place.”
But for Koelzer, it wasn’t the recognition that had him hooked, it was the experience of attending Commodity Classic that following spring to receive his award as a top state entry from the National Corn Growers Association.
“Remember back in 2010, farming really wasn’t all that great in those years,” he said. “I went to California, and I had never been to one of these national farm shows before. But I’ll never forget walking into Commodity Classic for the first time. No one was there to sell you anything, they were just there to help you and make you a better farmer.”
His highest yield to date was in 2020 at 323 bushel per acre, which was the top state overall yield in the “Strip-Till, Minimum-Till, Mulch-Till, Ridge-Till Non-Irrigated Class.” He missed out on third place recognition on the national level by a bushel and half. For 2023, Koelzer said he hopes to top his personal best and place in the national contest.
Each year, Koelzer chooses two to three fields that he enters into the yield contest and tries out new things. He will be the first to admit that the practices and inputs dedicated to these fields aren’t necessarily economical on a large scale, but they help him to learn and make decisions for the rest of his farm.
“Fred really set me up to perform,” he said, “and I’ve been competing ever since. Corn is by far my favorite crop to grow and I’m going to keep competing because it’s fun.”
Registration for both the Kansas Corn Yield Contest and National Corn Yield Contest are now open until Aug. 16 at ncga.com. Enter by June 30 to save with a special early entry rate. Entry will remain open at the full rate through Aug. 16. All harvest forms will be due by Nov. 30. Many seed companies pay for entry and membership fees for growers through the NCYC voucher program.
The Kansas Corn Yield Contest is sponsored by Kansas Corn and K-State Research and Extension. In the Kansas Corn Yield Contest, growers compete for cash prizes and recognition for irrigated and non-irrigated yields in ten districts as well as awards for the state’s top irrigated and top non-irrigated entries. Kanas CYC prizes will be awarded at the Kansas Corn Symposium in January 2024.
In the National Corn Yield Contest, winners will receive national recognition in publications, as well as other awards from participating sponsoring seed, chemical and crop protection companies. NCYC winners will be honored at the 2024 Commodity Classic in Houston, Texas.
For yield contest information and registration links, visit kscorn.com/yieldcontest. For more information, call Kansas Corn at 785-410-5009, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.