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Department of Agronomy

2018 Collegiate Crops Team

K-State Crops Team wins National Championship & Sweeps Top Individual Awards

Released: December 6th, 2018

Crops Team

K-State 2018 Collegiate Crops Team (l to r): Keren Duerksen (asst. coach), Dr. Kevin Donnelly (coach), Wes Jennings, Jayden Meyer, Nate Dick, Blake Kirchhoff, Madison Tunnell, Noah Winans, Kaylin Fink (asst. coach), Luke Ryan

MANHATTAN, Kan. – The Kansas State University Crops Team recently captured the title of national champions by winning both the Kansas City American Royal Collegiate Crops Contest on Nov. 13 and the Chicago Collegiate Crops Contest on Nov. 17. K-State teams have now won the collegiate crops contest championship in 16 of the past 20 years. Iowa State University was in second place at both events, and the University of Minnesota-Crookston took third.

Official members of the K-State team were Wes Jennings, Abilene, junior in agronomy; Luke Ryan, Solomon, sophomore in agronomy; and Jayden Meyer, Smith Center, sophomore in agricultural economics. Alternate contestants were agronomy majors Nate Dick, junior, Inman; Noah Winans, junior, Tekonsha, Michigan; Madison Tunnell, sophomore, Olathe; and Blake Kirchhoff, sophomore, Hardy, Nebraska.

In both contests, the K-State team took first place in all three phases of the contest: plant and seed identification, seed analysis and grain grading. In addition, team members swept the 1-2-3 individual overall placings at both events. Such a sweep of all three contest components and the top three individual placings at both contests is very rare and has only been accomplished twice before in the 85-year history of the events, both times by K-State.

At Chicago, Wes Jennings won first place individual overall. He won both the plant and seed identification and seed analysis components and finished second in grain grading. Luke Ryan was second overall, placing second in identification, third in seed analysis and fourth in identification. Jayden Meyer came in third, tied with Ryan for second in identification, and was fourth in seed analysis and seventh in grain grading. Alternate Nate Dick also had a perfect score in grain grading.

At Kansas City, Jayden Meyer was the top individual overall, where he won the grain grading component with a perfect score. He also was first in identification and second in seed analysis. Wes Jennings was second individual overall, placing first in identification, second in seed analysis, and fourth in grain grading. Luke Ryan was tied for third overall, third in identification, sixth in grain grading and eighth in seed analysis. Alternate Blake Kirchhoff scored a perfect in grain grading also.

The team was coached by Kevin Donnelly, K-State professor of agronomy. Keren Duerksen, Newton, and Kaylin Fink, Chapman, seniors in agronomy, were assistant coaches.   

In the contests, participants are required to identify 200 plant or seed samples of crops and weeds; grade eight different samples of grain according to Federal Grain Inspection Service standards; and analyze 10 seed samples to determine what contaminants they contain.

The American Royal coordinated the Kansas City contest, with Corteva Agriscience as the primary awards sponsor. Additional sponsors were GFG Ag Services, CHS Foundation, American Society of Agronomy, Association of Official Seed Analysts, and South Dakota Crop Improvement Association.

The primary sponsor of the Chicago contest was the CME Group. Additional donors in Chicago included the Crop Science Society of America, Growmark Cooperative, and the Society of Commercial Seed Technologists.

For its performance, K-State received a team scholarship award from contest sponsors at Kansas City, and CME Group provided individual scholarships to the top five students at Chicago. They will also receive a stipend from the American Society of Agronomy Reinvest Program to attend the Australia Universities Crops Competition in the fall of 2019.

Locally, sponsors for the K-State Crops Team include the Kansas Crop Improvement Association, Department of Agronomy, College of Agriculture, and the K-State Student Government Association.

Source: Kevin Donnelly, 785-532-5402, kjd@k-state.edu

Edited by: Kathy Gehl, 785-532-3354, kgehl@k-state.edu


K-State Crops Team places third in Australian universities crops competition

Trip highlights included The Great Barrier Reef and koala bears


K-State Collegiate Crops Team at the 2018 Australian Universities Crops Competition (l to r): Nathan Ryan, Kaylin Fink, Keren Duerksen, Trent Frye

November 7, 2018

MANHATTAN, Kan. — Four members of the Kansas State University Crops Team recently returned from a study trip to Australia where they competed in the Australian Universities Crops Competition. The event was hosted by the Australian Grain Growers organization and was held in Temora, New South Wales. The K-State team traveled with seven students from Iowa State University and two students from the University of Minnesota-Crookston who also participated in the competition. A team from Virginia Tech University also competed, along with other agricultural universities across southern and western Australia.

K-State Crops Team members making the trip and their hometowns included Keren Duerksen, Newton; Kaylin Fink, Chapman; and Trent Frye, Belleville, all seniors in agronomy, and Nathan Ryan, Louisburg, Missouri, junior in agronomy. The team was accompanied by coach Kevin Donnelly, professor of agronomy. This was the fourth trip for the K-State team since 2012 to participate in the Australian competition. 

The K-State team took third place in the contest, led by Trent Frye who was the eighth place overall individual. The University of Sydney placed first, followed by Charles Sturt University from Wagga Wagga, Australia.

Team members Duerksen, Fink, and Ryan were awarded a stipend from the American Society of Agronomy to cover part of their travel expenses as a result of previously placing in the top five in the U.S. Collegiate Crops Contests in Kansas City and Chicago in November, 2017. Additional sponsors of the K-State team were the Kansas Corn Growers Association, Kansas Grain Sorghum Commission, Syngenta, Landmark Implement, Polansky Seed, Norder Supply, and the K-State Department of Agronomy. The university’s College of Agriculture also provided international travel scholarships to the K-State students.

The competition was held over two days at the Temora Agricultural Innovation Centre, managed by FarmLink. The contest included a seed identification section, three exams over production of selected Australian crops, commercial grading of wheat samples, a business management problem, field yield estimates, management recommendations, and a live crop, weed, and disease evaluation component. 

Before and after the competition, the group toured a large irrigated farm, two grain farms featuring mixed cropping systems, a sheep farm, a cherry orchard and processing facility, and a vineyard and winery. They also toured the Rhizolysimeter Center at Charles Sturt University and a field station operated by AGT, the largest wheat breeding company in Australia. Learning about canola and Australian white wheat production, ryegrass herbicide resistance problems, and the use of pulse crops such as lupins and fava beans in crop rotations were highlights for the U.S. teams.

The students also took the opportunity to learn more about Australia. The trip began with visits to popular sites in Sydney, followed by a trip to the Great Barrier Reef at Cairns. On the trip to Temora, the group visited the Blue Mountains west of Sydney. After the contest, they travelled to Melbourne and viewed the Twelve Apostles and other majestic rock formations along the southern coastline on the Great Ocean Road. Seeing koala bears in the wild at a park along the way was a highlight of the trip.

Source: Kevin Donnelly, 785-532-5402, kjd@k-state.edu

Edited by: Kathy Gehl, 785-532-3354, kgehl@k-state.edu


Contact Information

Dr. Kevin Donnelly
Professor of Crop Science