EVANSVILLE, Ill. — Randy Kron couldn’t help but have a “proud dad” moment on the stage during the 2021 Purdue Farm Management Tour.
“Last year, the 367 corn. With Corn Growers, you have to have at least a 10-acre plot and it was probably 20. The place he picked to put it was pure sand, almost blow sand. I said, ‘You’re nuts. Why would you do that?’ He said, ‘Part of it is I want to prove if you feed it everything it needs, you can have good corn,’ and he proved that last year because it was on pure blow sand that has probably been some of the lowest-yielding stuff we ever had over the farm over the years,” Randy said.
Kron’s son, Ben, won first place in the 2020 National Corn Growers Association National Corn Yield Contest in the Strip, Min, Mulch Ridge-Till Irrigated Category with a yield of 367.3214 bushels per acre.
What he did to reach that 367 BPA winning yield is what he’s done since returning to the farm after graduating from college, the University of Northwestern Ohio.
“I spend a lot of time doing research on different things, talking to people and learning. I’ve tweaked what we do quite a bit,” Ben said.
For Ben, who, along with his mother, Joyce, and longtime farm employee Steve Glazer, oversees the day-to-day farm operations while his dad is involved as the president of Indiana Farm Bureau, that means adding to the farm’s nutrient programs.
“We’ve gone from just going out and planting a crop to now we are using all kinds of different fertilizers. We have done research in planning a fungicide program and different nutrient applications throughout the year. We did a lot of testing for that,” Ben said.
Ben said he decided while he was away at college that the path after college would lead back to the farm.
“In high school, I had some ideas of doing different things. I realized I really like working on trucks and tractors. I went off to tech school and as I went through tech school, I realized I did want to come back. When you grow up on a farm, there’s something about it and you kind of always end up back to it. It’s something you really just don’t want to leave,” he said.
When he returned to the farm, he brought back not just the abilities, skills and knowledge to be able to work on the farm’s trucks and tractors and combines, but he also brought a curiosity to try new ideas when it came to the farm’s cropping systems.
His parents aren’t strangers to trying new things. Over the years, they have raised non-GMO corn and non-GMO soybeans, as well as white corn and even mums, to add to the farm’s income. Currently, the Krons raise white corn, yellow corn and soybeans.
One of the things that Ben brought back to the farm was knowledge of how data and data collection could help the farm.
“Dad always kept some data, but it was on a notepad in the drawer. What we have now, everything is integrated into the iPads and computers. I have all of it on my cellphone in my pocket. Anytime I think about something, I can pull it up and look at it,” he said.
The farm uses Climate for data collection and storage. Ben said analysis of all of that data, mapped together, has helped change the way they farm, from everything to seeding rates to fertilizer.
“Every piece of equipment we use has a hockey puck in it. Everything we do is mapped into that program, anything from spraying to working ground, even doing pre-plant nitrogen. Everything is put down in there. Then we use that at the end of the year. We can go back and it will overlay everything. You can tell in a field this application did better than that or this rate did better than that in this area. We use that and use the total data to change what we’re doing,” Ben said.
Ben also relies on expert advice outside the farm.
“We have an agronomist and then my fertilizer salesman. I use both of them. They are both very intelligent people. I like to get them in the same room at the same time and see what kind of ideas we can get floating around about things. Having that much knowledge in a room and having access to it is very big. It plays a major role in what we’ve been able to do. Having people in your farm like that is major. Sometimes I have moments where I can’t think of something and they point it out and it makes things a lot easier to change and to fix,” Ben said.