LYNN TWP — While the winter season is often a slower time for many area farmers, a wide variety of business owners who profit from local farmers’ hard work take time out to recognize their efforts. Such was the case for Michael and Amanda Opificius of Lynn Township who were recently honored by DeKalb seed company, as part of the National Corn Growers Association Yield contest.
Although they were invited to the National Corn Growers conference in Orlando, Florida, Opificius and his wife turned down the opportunity, due to raising a young family and keeping things going on the Opificius farm. They did manage to attend a banquet in Michigan hosted by DeKalb a few weeks ago and brought home honors for their corn harvest last fall.
“Not everyone gets into the competition and a lot of the times, it’s the salesman for the company that does all the leg work and submits paperwork for us,” the young farmer explained of the entry process. “It can be very competitive. The sales rep will come to the field where we’d be and measure the yield of the corn on a 1.25 acre part of the field and then that real time, raw data has to be verified before the results are submitted. Opificius, who farms around 2,000 of rented and owned land with has father, Gerry, said a weigh scale is brought to the field to help with gathering information on the yield.
With about half of the family farmland put in to corn, Opificius said each field can produce varied yields. The particular field that was tested earned the family farm second place honors in the Conventional Tillage division for the State of Michigan. The runner-up yield produced 277.8 bushels of corn per acre and was from a variety known as 101-day corn. Randy Essenmacher of Almont was the winner in the same category with a yield of 283 bushel per acre. In the No-till, non-irrigated division, Jay Ferguson, also of Lynn Township, received first place for his entry.
Opificius, who has worked on the family farm since he was a young boy, said even in his early years of helping run the farm, he can see where the cost of doing business, including purchasing corn seed, has skyrocketed. As an example, he said a ton of fertilizer that cost around $165 a ton just a couple of years ago now costs over $600 per ton. Still, Opificius enjoys running the farm’s giant John Deere combine in the fall and seeing the fields produce thousands of bushels of corn along with the other crops the family raises.
“You can usually tell how a field is going to produce, once you get the headlands off and get into the main part of the field,” Opificius explained. “On that particular field last fall, where the corn was taken for the competition, we could tell it was going to be good.” He said while he was thankful for receiving the second place plaque at the banquet, he recognizes there are many farmers who do not take part in the competition that do a good job of getting high yields as well.
After a warm, dry spell in early February that may have felt a little like spring was not far away, and now with recent snowstorms the past few weeks, local farmers continue their repair work on planting and tillage equipment in hopes of heading to the fields soon and trying their luck at another award winning season of harvested crops.