This past season, the Kansas State crop judging team took the title of the national championship after winning the Kansas City American Royal Collegiate Crops Contest and the Chicago Collegiate Crops Contest.
The team has been around for 86 years and won 18 of the last 21 years of competition. The team has competed all across the U.S., in places like Chicago and Wisconsin.
Unlike other clubs and teams on campus, to be a part of the team you are required to take an agronomy class on seed analysis and identification.
This course is taught by the coach of the team, Kevin Donnelly. After taking the course, students are eligible to become a member. The team is composed of three competition members and three alternates.
Competitions are broken down into three parts: seed and plant analysis, seed and plant identification and grain grading. In seed and plant identification, students are required to accurately identify over 200 different plants and seeds.
“You have to really pick up on the small intricate details that aren’t always super obvious,” Blake Kirchhoff, senior in junior in agronomy, said.
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Competitions are also timed — some of them lasting for hours.
“Each section is an hour and a half,” Madison Tunnell, junior in agronomy, said. “Then we’ve got just a few minute breaks in between each one so we can move from section to section.”
The average completion will last over five hours. Each competitor will get a score based on their accuracy. These will be totaled over the three sections to produce an overall score which determines the winning team.
The key to producing a good score is all in the accuracy. Contestants also need to make sure they have correct spelling and precise grammar.
The team won in Kansas City and in Chicago, which led to their national championship win. Donnelly said he is proud of their hard work and determination.
“I really enjoy seeing them advance and improve and grow,” Donnelly said.