New Jersey farmer gives Midwestern states run for their money with his corn-growing skills
There seems to be a contest for just about everything these days. And one New Jersey man is the reigning champion for growing corn.
Farmer Sam Santini, of Stewartsville, drives a combine through a field in the Pohatcong Creek valley of Warren County pulling truckloads after truckloads of corn.
“It looks like a pretty good crop this year again, so we’re hoping for the best,” Santini says.
When Santini refers to “the best,” what he means is the best in all of the United States. Santini is unofficially the “Corn King” or New Jersey, as the reigning 2020 champion of the National Corn Growers Association National Corn Yield Contest – the Super Bowl of corn farming. Prizes are awarded based on how much corn is harvested per acre.
Santini took home the first prize in the conventional non-irrigated category with 381 bushels per acre harvested from his field.
There is a separate category for corn belt states like Iowa and Indiana. Santini was only four bushels short of beating them. He says that farmers in the Midwestern states are often surprised by how much corn he can harvest.
“Indiana is very surprised New Jersey can grow corn. When I go to the National Corn Growers, they say, ‘New Jersey – it’s all cement.’ I say, ‘Well, I show you we can grow just as good of crops or better than you,’” Santini says.
Santini was harvesting corn on Wednesday under the watchful eye of county agent Hank Bignell from the Rutgers Cooperative Extension. Bignell is there to supervise and get the results to be submitted to the contest.
When they break for lunch, there are pork roll sandwiches made with the pork from the Santini family’s own hogs.
Santini credits his success to his own experience and the soil in the fields.
“I’ve been preparing the ground for the last 15 years. You’ve got to build your soil up. It takes years to build the soil up,” he says.
Santini’s father Dominic first started farming the area in 1922. The family will celebrate 100 years of farming next year, hopefully with another championship under its belt.
The results of the 2021 corn yield competition will not be known until December.