Dry Start to the Year Leads to a “Bin Buster” Finish for New Jersey Sorghum-producing Couple

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Pioneer® Brand Sorghum Hybrids Land 12 Top-3 Places in National Sorghum Producers Yield Contest

JOHNSTON, Iowa -- Solid management, smart hybrid selection and a little luck all came together in 2023 to help Chris and Santino “Sam” Santini of Stewartsville, New Jersey, take top honors in the National Sorghum Producers Yield Contest. The Santinis’ Bin Buster Award-winning crop of Pioneer® brand sorghum came in at an eye-popping average of 221.75 bushels per acre on 100 acres of dryland sorghum ground.

Chris and Sam Santini

“For the last 10 years, people have been asking how we do it,” Sam said. “Everyone says sorghum likes dry weather, and we get 40-60 inches of rain per year. But we’ve found that as long as we treat the crop right and choose the right hybrids, we can make high yields.”

For the 2023 crop year, the Santinis planted Pioneer 85P58, a hybrid with good pre- and post-flowering drought tolerance – a trait that would ultimately be critical to the Santinis’ success.

“We had early season drought conditions, but I believe that actually helped give us a strong root system,” Sam said. “Other traits like relative maturity don’t make that much of a difference for us; if we waited for the crop to dry, we’d never cut it! So, we typically cut between 16-20% moisture.”

As for treating their sorghum right, Sam and Chris handle it just like their corn crop.

“We fertilize and apply fungicides almost like corn,” Sam said. “We put at least two fungicide applications on. And we feel like our sorghum needs at least 200 units of nitrogen, so we make a split application – at planting, then top-dress before heading.”

The Santinis have a long history of award-winning sorghum crops with Pioneer brand sorghum over the last decade, including 2nd place, 2022 dryland no-till/east; 1st place, 2021 dryland no-till/east; 1st place, 2020 dryland tillage/east; and 1st place, 2019 dryland no-till/east and dryland tillage/east. They will be inducted into the National Sorghum Producers Hall of Fame at this year’s Commodity Classic in Houston.

The impressive yields coming from nontraditional sorghum-growing areas like the northeastern U.S. continue to exceed the expectations of sorghum breeders.

“With 85P58, we’ve really pushed our limits in terms of how far we can go on yield,” said Laura Mayor, Global Sorghum Breeding Lead, Corteva Agriscience. “And as it turns out, Pioneer 85P58 also performs well under a certain level of stress. Taken together, this gives us amazing flexibility; we know that even under stress, or in a nontraditional environment, it will produce well. Still, yields like the Santinis had are quite unexpected, since those hybrids are developed for the traditional sorghum-growing areas of Kansas and Oklahoma. It’s a huge accomplishment for Sam and Chris, and we’re proud to be a part of their success.”

But Pioneer sorghum breeders aren’t resting on this success. They’re implementing new techniques and technologies to help advance hybrids faster, all the while pushing the limits of yield potential so farmers like the Santinis can aspire to produce more with Pioneer brand sorghum. In total, Pioneer brand hybrids finished with 12 top-3 places among the seven divisions. For a complete list of winners, go to Pioneer.com/NSP.

About Pioneer
Pioneer, the flagship seed brand of Corteva Agriscience, is the world’s leading developer and supplier of advanced plant genetics, providing high-quality seeds to farmers in more than 90 countries. Pioneer provides agronomic support and services to help increase farmer productivity and profitability and strives to develop sustainable agricultural systems for people everywhere.

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About Corteva 
Corteva, Inc. (NYSE: CTVA) is a global pure-play agriculture company that combines industry-leading innovation, high-touch customer engagement and operational execution to profitably deliver solutions for the world’s most pressing agriculture challenges. Corteva generates advantaged market preference through its unique distribution strategy, together with its balanced and globally diverse mix of seed, crop protection, and digital products and services. With some of the most recognized brands in agriculture and a technology pipeline well positioned to drive growth, the company is committed to maximizing productivity for farmers, while working with stakeholders throughout the food system as it fulfills its promise to enrich the lives of those who produce and those who consume, ensuring progress for generations to come. More information can be found at www.corteva.com. 

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Media Contact:
Derek Burleson
(479) 651-0275