Chris Santini from Stewartsville, N.J., secured the National Sorghum Producers’ 2023 National Sorghum Yield Contest’s highest yield at 221.75 bushels per acre. Entered into the dryland no-till East division, she surpassed her husband Santino “Sam” in the dryland tillage East division who achieved 221.06 bushels per acre. These wins qualify both Chris and Sam for the Hall of Fame award, which stipulates 3 national wins in the same category.

The Santinis farm 1,700 acres and plant around 100 acres of sorghum per year in rotation with corn and soybeans, according to Progressive Farmer. They use a John Deere 1795 planter to seed their sorghum at a rate of 120,000 to 140,000 seeds per acre on 15-inch rows. The previous crop in each field was soybeans.

"We treat our sorghum like corn," Sam tells Progressive Farmer. "Whatever we use on the corn, we use on the sorghum. So, when it comes to fertility and nitrogen, we'll split apply with some before, some at-plant and then top dress some during the season."

Despite a dry growing season, the Santinis credit their success to a new sorghum variety, a new fungicide, and the smoke from Canadian wildfires. After planting Pioneer 84G62 for nearly 15 years, they chose to plant Pioneer 85P58 this year at the suggestion of their seed rep. While Sam would not disclose the name of the foliar fungicide he used this year to Progressive Farmer, he noted that he made an application prior to heading and another at heading.

"Then there was the smoke from the wildfires. We had days when it was complete cloud cover and almost like a really heavy fog because of the smoke," Sam says. "I feel it put carbon into the crops. Our sorghum and our corn was probably the best overall we ever had."

All national and state winners will receive further recognition in March 2024 during the Commodity Classic in Houston, Texas.

Other noteworthy yields are spotlighted across 3 divisions spanning across the country, along with an overarching food grade champion. In the 2023 contest, first place honors go to:

Bibb and Nighswonger Partnership from Comanche, Kan., in the Irrigated West division, achieving a yield of 218.64 bushels per acre — Dekalb DKS44-07

  • Howard DeShong from Lancaster, Pa., in the Irrigated East division, achieving a yield of 168.34 bushels per acre — Pioneer 84G62
  • David Knoll from Charles Mix, S.D., in the Dryland Tillage West division, achieving a yield of 183.32 bushels per acre — Pioneer 89Y79
  • Santino Santini from Warren, N.J., in the Dryland Tillage East division, achieving a yield of 221.06 bushels per acre — Pioneer 85P58
  • Mark Bloss from Pawnee, Neb., in the Dryland No-Till West division, achieving a yield of 181.00 bushels per acre — Pioneer 84P72
  • Chris Santini from Warren, N.J., in the Dryland No-Till East division, achieving a yield of 221.75 bushels per acre — Pioneer 85P58
  •  JnL Farms from Appanoose, Iowa, securing victory in the Food Grade division with a yield of 139.56 bushels per acre — Richardson G37

Hall of Fame winners will also be recognized for having achieved at least three wins at the national level. They include:

  • Jeffrey Barlieb — Warren County, N.J.
  • David Knoll — Hyde County, S.D.
  • Chris Santini — Warren County, N.J.
  • Santino Santini — Warren County, N.J.

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