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members of k-state crops team standing behind table with trophies

Members of the 2022 K-State crops judging team include coach Kevin Donnelly, Leah Hudson, Alex Kaufmann, Ashley Chandler, Trevor Mullen, Jaime Knight, Evan Bott, Ellie Braun, Caleb Kats, assistant coach Sarah Zerger and assistant coach Luke Ryan. | Download this photo.

K-State crops team caps season as national runner-up

Iowa State snaps K-State’s three-year winning streak

Jan. 14, 2022

MANHATTAN, Kan – The Kansas State University crops team completed its season recently with runner-up finishes at the Kansas City American Royal Collegiate Crops Contest and the National Collegiate Crops Contest in Ames, Iowa.

Iowa State University won both events to claim the national championship for 2021. The University of Minnesota-Crookston placed third at the American Royal, and South Dakota State University placed third at the national contest.

K-State had won both events for each of the past three years and for 17 of the past 21 years through 2019. Both were cancelled last year due to COVID. K-State placed first in the central regional contest in Oklahoma earlier in the fall.

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 ten seed samples to determine what contaminants they contain.

Members of K-State’s team include seniors Alex Kaufmann, Concordia; Evan Bott, Palmer; and Trevor Mullen, Salina. Team alternates include sophomores Ellie Braun, Belvue; Leah Hudson, Rossville; and Ashley Chandler, Neodesha; plus juniors Jaime Knight, Kansas City; and Caleb Kats, Silver Lake.

K-State placed first in grain grading and plant and seed identification at the national contest, and second in seed analysis.

At the American Royal, K-State placed first in plant and seed identification and second in the other two categories.

Individually, Bott placed fourth at nationals and second at the American Royal, while Kaufmann was fifth and third at those same contests. Bott also placed first in identification at both events, and second at KC and third at Ames in grain grading. Kaufmann placed second in identification at both contests. Mullen was first in grain grading at the American Royal.

The team was coached by Kevin Donnelly, K-State professor of agronomy. Graduate students Luke Ryan (Solomon) and Sarah Zerger (Abilene) were assistant coaches.

The American Royal coordinated the Kansas City contest, with Corteva Agriscience as the primary sponsor. Additional sponsors were CHS, American Society of Agronomy, Association of Official Seed Analysts and the South Dakota Crop Improvement Association.

The primary sponsor of the Ames contest was the CME Group. Additional donors included the Crop Science Society of America, Growmark Cooperative, the Society of Commercial Seed Technologists and Syngenta.

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

K-State’s crops team received a scholarship from contest sponsors at Kansas City, and CME Group provided individual scholarships to the top five students at Ames.

At a glance

K-State's crops judging team, which had won 17 of the past 21 national titles, finished the 2021 season as the runner-up.


K-State Department of Agronomy


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 well‑being 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. For more information, visit www.ksre.ksu.edu. K-State Research and Extension is an equal opportunity provider and employer.