(Posted Wed. Jan 18th, 2012)

Jan. 18: Recently, former National Corn Growers Association Corn Board member Jamie Jameson enjoyed a unique honor when he presented an address on the past and future of corn production in Maryland during the Talbot County Corn Club’s 60th Anniversary Dinner. Reportedly the oldest organization of its kind in the nation, the club members looked to NCGA as a resource for an analysis of the production and use trends they have witnessed first-hand through their on-going county-wide yield contest.


NCGA’s Off the Cob podcast caught up with Jameson to explore his thoughts on the experience and the value that yield contests, held at the county, state or national level, offer farmers.


“Since this club was founded, we have seen a marked improvement in corn yields, corn varieties and in the treatments used,” said Jameson. “It has been quite an evolution that has brought us to many of today’s practices, such as no-till farming. It was rewarding looking back at this process with many familiar faces that I met through my service as a grower leader at both the state and national level and through my involvement in NCGA’s corn yield contest.”


Jameson explained that, while there was great interest in national production and use trends, he also took time to speak to the unique challenges facing growers in the region.


“We spoke not only about the national trends in farming, but also looked at the specific issues facing Maryland farmers today, including regulations placed on farmers in the Chesapeake Bay area,” he explained. “In this area, we also face a population increase that is moving land out of agriculture production as cities and suburbs expand. In the early 1950s, farmers here faced a significantly different landscape than they do today.”


Given the significant national attention paid to sustainable agriculture, farmers in Maryland, much like their counterparts across the country, are using the yield contest data not only to find methods that will bump up their production but also to find ways to do so while using fewer inputs.


“Like farmers across the country, the corn club members continually search for ways to increase yields while decreasing inputs that control harmful pests, diseases and the nutrients needed to foster growth,” said Jameson. “Growers here are finding ways to use the resources particular to their area to improve production and in finding the varieties that will respond best to these practices.”


Founded in 1951, the club was created to facilitate the county-wide yield contest and host an awards banquet for the winners. At one point, the club even served as a model for fine similar programs in Maryland alone, but the majority of these organizations have disappeared with state and national organizations hosting most yield contests. Much like NCGA members participating in the National Corn Yield Contest, the members of the Talbot County Corn Club continue their proud tradition citing the knowledge and ideas shared as reason enough to make the effort.


To listen to the full interview, click here.