LIVERPOOL, NY — Considering 2016 will be remembered as the year of the drought, the state’s corn growers raised a remarkable amount of corn. The New York Corn & Soybean Growers Association honored the state’s top producers recently at the organization’s recent Winter Expo.
“It was a tough year,” stated Mike Stanyard, PhD, senior extension associate Field Crops and Soils with Cornell University Cooperative Extension, before he announced the state’s totals and awarded plaques and, for the top producer, the traveling trophy.
New York’s farmers harvested 570,000 acres for grain, down 20,000 acres from last year. Acres harvested for silage totaled 510,000, a jump of 30,0000 acres.
The national average was 174.6 bushels per acre with Iowa (203 bushels), Illinois (197) and Minnesota (193) taking top honors. New York’s grain corn production averaged 129 bushels per acre, a decrease of 14 bushels per acre from 2015.
Charlie Bares, owner of Mallards Dairy in Ellicotville (Allegany County) placed first with 273.30 bushels per acre using DEKALB DKC 57-75. In second, Kludt Brothers (Orleans County), harvested 263.90 bushels with Channel 207-27.
Though Kludt Brothers has received similar recognition before, Matt Kludt later said, “It was surprising for sure. We set up our fields for high yields. If the timing of the weather works, then you end up with what you’re hoping for.”
Kludt was unable to attend the meeting to accept the award in person, but the attendees —primarily other farmers — offered a round of applause out of respect for Kludt’s achievement.
For the 2016 contest, 83 corn grain farmers entered and 37 completed the contest. Among the five regions — West, Finger Lakes, Central, North and East — 16 counties participated.
Kludt Brothers farms 8,000 acres, two-thirds of which the farm owns. The remaining land is leased. Numerous family members work daily in the operation, including Kludt’s great-uncle, father, mother, cousin, nephews, wife, sister and brother-in-law. Raising corn, vegetables and grain, the farm was established in the 1930s by Kludt’s grandfather, who immigrated from Germany.
Keeping true to his family farm’s roots, Kludt held a farm meeting six months in advance of the season to plan growing strategies.
“We have a big, family team that does produce a good yield and it leads to success,” Kludt said. “We don’t do it for the award but for fun and to see how western New York stacks up against the rest of the United States. It pushes us to strive for more.”
Kludt said the farm performs field trials to push field production higher. By a little trial and error, he discovers the seed variety and growing methods that helps the farm produce more.
“It’s not just one thing we did differently, but a combination of doing everything correctly,” Kludt said. “You can’t put your finger on one thing. The weather is 70 percent of it. We were working with only about 30 percent good weather.”
He advises farmers who want to increase their yield to have soil tests performed so they can maximize its fertility. He believes that’s just one part of “doing everything to the best of your ability,” he said. “Try to do everything to the best of your ability. See how you make out. I’m surrounded by a great group of people who understand farming and know how to do things right. I tell people to surround themselves with the smartest people they know and follow the advice that they give you.”
The farm retains a crop consultant and considers advice from the many vendors that serve the farm. Kludt appreciates the insights they offer. But he also listens to the family.
“Everyone brings something to the table,” Kludt said.
Apparently, he’s on the right track. Kludt won the 2015 national contest and the statewide yield contest in 2015, 2014, 2012, 2010, and 2009.
Kludt also received the top honor among New York farms participating in the National Corn Growers Class A, No-Till/Strip-Till Irrigated division.
Based in Silver Springs, NY, the New York Corn & Soybean Growers Association addresses the concerns of the state’s corn and soybean producers, including industry representation, educational opportunities, and affecting the legislation that influences the industry. The organization also funds research on corn and soybeans. Jason Swede serves as the group’s president.