Hadley farmer Matt Parsons wins national corn grower's award

  • Chris Parsons harvests corn in Hadley in 2011. Courtesy of Katelyn Parsons

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

HADLEY — Matt Parsons of Earle M. Parsons & Sons farm in Hadley and Northampton recently won an award from the National Corn Growers Association.

Parsons grows corn on about 300 acres, most of it in Northampton. His yield was almost 260 bushels of corn per acre last growing season, a feat he is pleased with considering drought conditions that affected New England last year.

For comparison, the projected average for U.S. growers last year was 175.3 bushels per acre, according to the association

Parsons was one of 400 winners nationwide out of 7,979 entries in the Corn Yield Contest. He took second place in Massachusetts for A Non-Irrigated Class. The association honored winners at a March 3 ceremony in San Antonio.

“We were very happy with the performance we had,” Parsons said. “You’re always going to be affected by the weather, but we’re very happy to do well in a dry year.”

The Parsons family also grows hay and oats, and raises swine and sheep. The Parsons are 12th-generation farmers, and their ancestor Cornet Joseph Parsons was one of the founders of Northampton.

Parsons attributed the yield to soil management techniques he has used in recent years. One method is using stalks and leaves to feed the soil.

“We do a lot of residue management — leftover stalks and leaves become food for the microbes,” Parsons said.

He also minimizes tilling, which means when rain falls, it stays in place and doesn’t run off, puddling in certain areas.

“We disturb the soil as little as possible prior to planting,” Parsons said.

Parsons hopes drought conditions for 2017 ease, yielding an even better crop this year.

“We hope that it’s not quite as dry as last year,” he said.

Jack Suntrup can be reached at jsuntrup@gazettenet.com.