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Picture of K-State crops team with awards

Kansas State University’s Collegiate Crops Team won the national championship for the 17th time in the past 21 years. The 2019 team includes (l to r) Luke Ryan (assistant coach), Alex Kaufmann, Evan Bott, Madison Tunnell, Blake Kirchhoff, Nate Dick, Noah Winans, Kevin Donnelly (coach) and Trevor Mullen. | Download this photo.

K-State crops team sweeps top individual awards to win 2019 National Championship

The dynasty continues with 17 national championships in 21 years

December 12, 2019

MANHATTAN, Kan. – The Kansas State University crops team recently captured the title of national champions by winning the Kansas City American Royal Collegiate Crops Contest on Nov. 19 and the Chicago Collegiate Crops Contest on Nov. 23. K-State teams have now won the collegiate crops contest championship in 17 of the past 21 years.

The University of Wisconsin-Platteville was second at both events. Iowa State University was third in Kansas City and Purdue University took third in Chicago.

Official members of the K-State team were junior Blake Kirchhoff, Hardy, Nebraska, and seniors Noah Winans, Tekonsha, Michigan, and Nate Dick, Inman, Kansas. Alternate contestants were junior Madison Tunnell, Olathe, Kansas and sophomores Alex Kaufmann, Concordia, Kansas; Evan Bott, Palmer, Kansas; and Trevor Mullen, Salina, Kansas. All are agronomy majors at K-State.

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 one-two-three 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 three times before in the 86-year history of the events, all by K-State.

At Chicago, Blake Kirchhoff was first place individual overall, and he won all three contest components. Nate Dick was second overall, placing second in identification and grain grading, and third in seed analysis. Noah Winans came in third, placing second in seed analysis and fifth in identification and grain grading.

At Kansas City, Blake Kirchhoff was also the top individual, placing first in grain grading with a perfect score, second in identification, and fifth in seed analysis. Noah Winans was second high individual. He also made a perfect score in grain grading to tie for first, and he placed third in both seed analysis and identification. Nate Dick was third overall, placing first in identification, second in grain grading, and sixth in seed analysis.

The team was coached by Kevin Donnelly, K-State professor of agronomy. Luke Ryan, junior in agronomy from Solomon, Kansas, was the assistant coach.   

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. Corteva Agriscience was the primary awards sponsor. Additional sponsors were GFG Ag Services, 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.

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

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.

More information is available about agronomy education at K-State.


At a glance

They’ve done it again! K-State’s 2019 Crops Team has won the national championship 17 times in the past 21 years.


K-State Collegiate Crops Team


Kevin Donnelly

Written by

Kathy Gehl


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K‑State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the wellbeing of Kansans.
Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county extension offices, experiment fields, area extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K‑State campus in Manhattan.