The Kansas State University Crops Team completed the fall season on Nov. 19 by taking the top three individual placings to win the Chicago Collegiate Crops Contest by 104 points over Iowa State University. Earlier in the week, Iowa State edged the K-State team by six points in the Kansas City American Royal contest, resulting in a shared national championship for 2016.
This was the 8th straight win for K-State in the Chicago contest, matching the record set by the University of Minnesota from 1969-1976. K-State teams have now won or shared the collegiate crops contest championship in 20 of the past 23 years.
Official members of the K-State team were agronomy majors Jessi Bramhall, Seneca, senior; Sarah Zerger, Cheney, junior; and Hayden Guetterman, Bucyrus, senior. Alternate contestants were sophomores Keren Dureksen, Newton, and Kaylin Fink, Chapman.
In both contests, the K-State team took first place in both the grain grading and the plant and seed identification phases of the contest, and placed second in seed analysis. At Chicago, each team member won one component, and a 1-2-3 finish in grain grading sealed the win for K-State.
Jessi Bramhall was the high individual overall and the high individual in seed analysis. Sarah Zerger took second overall and was the high individual in plant and seed identification with a perfect score, the first since 1994 in the Chicago contest. Hayden Guetterman was third high individual, and won the grain grading section. Bramhall was second in identification and third in grain grading. Zerger placed second in grain grading while Guetterman placed fourth in seed analysis and fifth in identification.
At Kansas City, Jessi Bramhall was second overall, second in identification, third in seed analysis and fifth in grain grading. Sarah Zerger placed fourth overall, second in grain grading and fifth in seed analysis and identification. Hayden Guetterman was eighth overall and fourth in identification.
The team was coached by Kevin Donnelly, professor of agronomy. Assistant coaches were Nicole Sudbeck, agronomy junior from Seneca, and Samantha L’Ecuyer, agronomy senior from Morrowville.
In the contests, participants are required to identify 200 different 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 CHS Foundation as the primary financial sponsor. Additional sponsors were the American Society of Agronomy, DuPont Pioneer, and the 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.
Locally, sponsors for the K-State Crops Team include the Kansas Crop Improvement Association, Department of Agronomy, and the K-State Student Government Association.