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Team picture with awards, K-State Crops Team wins 2023 national title

Members of K-State's 2022 Collegiate Crops Judging Team include (l to r) assistant coach Kevin Donnelly, coach Sarah Frye, Landon Trout, Ashley Chandler, Jarek Meyer, Ellie Braun, assistant coach Luke Ryan, Leah Hudson and Renae Sinclair. | Download this photo.

K-State crops team wins American Royal national contest

KSU team splits 2022 national championship with Iowa State

Dec. 9, 2022

MANHATTAN, Kan. – The Kansas State University crops team completed the 2022 fall season by placing first at the Kansas City American Royal Collegiate Crops Contest and second at the Chicago Collegiate Crops Contest in November.

The results earned the team a split with Iowa State for the national championship. Third place went to the University of Minnesota-Crookston at Kansas City and the University of Wisconsin-Platteville at Chicago.

In the past 24 years, K-State teams have won or shared the crops judging national championship 19 times. K-State also placed first over Iowa State in the central regional contest held in Manhattan earlier this fall.

“This team worked diligently to return K-State to a share of the national crops judging championship in a very competitive year,” said Kevin Donnelly, emeritus professor of agronomy who served as an assistant coach following his retirement in June.

“The team dominated the Kansas City contest and fell just a few points short in Chicago,” Donnelly added.

Members of the K-State team include Ellie Braun, Belvue, Kan.; Ashley Chandler, Neodesha, Kan.; and Jarek Meyer, Smith Center, Kan. Alternate team members were Leah Hudson, Rossville, Kan.; Landon Trout, Scott City, Kan.; and Renae Sinclair, Mosca, Colo.

Meyer is an agricultural economics major and the others are all agronomy majors.

“Our alternates were also very competitive, which is critical to the future success of the program,” said team coach Sarah Frye, a past team member and current agronomy graduate student from Abilene, Kan.

At Kansas City, the team swept first place in all three components of the contest: grain grading, seed analysis and plant and seed identification. At Chicago, they were first in seed analysis and identification, and second in grain grading.

Individually, Braun placed first in Kansas City and fourth in Chicago. Chandler placed third in Kansas City and Chicago, and Meyer placed fourth in Kansas City and fifth in Chicago.

In the individual components at Kansas City:

  • Braun was first in identification, second in grading, and third in analysis.
  • Chandler finished second in identification and tied for second in grading.
  • Meyer was first in grading and third in identification.

At Chicago:

  • Chandler was first in identification and second in analysis.
  • Braun placed second in identification and fourth in grading.
  • Meyer was third in identification and fourth in analysis.  

Frye was assisted by K-State graduate student Luke Ryan (from Solomon, Kan.) and Donnelly.

Crop judging requires participants to identify 200 plant or seed samples of crops and weeds; grade eight 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 Corteva Agriscience as the primary sponsor. Additional sponsors were CHS, 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 for Chicago 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, the K-State Department of Agronomy and 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 contestants at Chicago.

At a glance

The K-State crops judging team wrapped up the 2022 season with a national title, the 19th time in 24 years that the program has finished atop the national rankings.


K-State Department of Agronomy

Notable quote

“This team worked diligently to return K-State to a share of the national crops judging championship in a very competitive year.”

— Kevin Donnelly, assistant coach and Emeritus Professor of Agronomy


Kevin Donnelly

Written by

Kathy Gehl

For more information: 

K-State Crops Judging Team


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