Archive for Thursday, August 4, 2011

Minneapolis farmer’s wheat crop yields almost 105 bushels per acre

August 4, 2011


— A north central Kansas farmer whose wheat fields entered in a statewide contest yielded nearly 105 bushels an acre said he's never come close to having that size harvest in the eight years he's been farming.

Tom Austin of Minneapolis easily won this year's Kansas Wheat Yield Contest, far outdistancing the harvests of two other regional winners.

"We were expecting more in the mid-60s to mid-70s range," said Austin, 41. "We were a little shocked."

The yield in the conventionally tilled field was 104.82 bushels an acre. It was certified by Cade Rensink, the district agricultural extension agent in Minneapolis, the Salina Journal reported Thursday.

"That's pretty remarkable," Rensink said. "We've seen 100-bushel yields before, but never what I'd say was documented. It was somewhat of a surprise to both of us."

Austin's yield was planted with the Armour wheat variety from Delphos Co-op. Despite a few thin spots in the field, the combine had to labor to reap the grain, Rensink said.

The central region reported several large yields this year, said Bill Spiegel, Kansas Wheat's spokesman.

"Competition was pretty keen in central Kansas. We had several entries with 85 bushels per acre and up. Some were in the 90s," he said. Austin's was the only one above 100.

While the contest yield was Austin's best ever, his average farm yield was in the 50s. Rensink guessed that the average wheat yield was just below 40 bushels to the acre.

"With all the dry weather, it was not the best," Austin said. "With those particular (contest) fields, I put on some micro-nutrients that we'd been experimenting with for four or five years. This year, I must've got it figured out. It turned out pretty good."

Chuck Downey, of St. Francis, won the western region of the contest with a yield of 61.76 bushels an acre. He planted the wheat variety Winterhawk by Westbred. In the eastern region, James Kesler of Sabetha, posted a wheat yield of 61.34 bushels to the acre with the variety Art, from Agripro.

The winners of the contest will each receive $1,000 and plaques Sept. 15 at the Kansas State Fair in Hutchinson. The Kansas Wheat Commission, Kansas Association of Wheat Growers — known together as Kansas Wheat — and the chemical company BASF co-sponsored the contest.


Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 4 months ago

Wow! St. Francis was mentioned! That was home!

My father, his father, and my great grandfather before him, and I suppose my great great grandfather him, were all wheat farmers near St. Francis since the years between 1880 - 1917, when the family first came to Cheyenne county as homesteaders from Russia. No, we were not Russian, we were Germans that had lived in Russia only since about 1820 or so. The Bolsheviks were like, well, it was time to leave Russia.

Do I ever know those fields near St. Francis, I first drove the tractor all over them when I was 12. That went on for many years, during the summers until 1978.

I sure do remember the time I had a bit of trouble when my father noticed that I was doing wheelies with the tractor. That was the day he told me to let out the clutch of the tractor slowly.

Years later, I moved back to St. Francis and drove all over them again in the 1990s a few times. I really didn't like driving the tractor because my opinion was that it was rather boring to plow those fields from sunup to sundown for 3 days.

One year when I was very young, about 5 or so, in about 1959, my father told my mother that he would buy her a washing machine or a dryer, her pick, if the wheat yeald was 50 bushels per acre. She was all excited, because then it would be so much easier to wash my younger brother's diapers.

(That was Steve, and everyone in town called him Tex, although he only visited Texas one time, I think in 1967. And, that was for only a few days.)

Well, my father had neglected to tell my mother that 50 bushes per acre was not even possible. Not with the wheat varieties that were available back then. She didn't know the difference. It was a joke, I guess.

Well, the yield that year certainly wasn't 50 bushels per acre, but it was pretty good, and my father surprised my mother by buying her both a washing machine and a dryer anyway!

And now, I'm amazed that Chuck Downey, who has to know a whole lot of my relatives, got 61.76 bushels an acre. That is amazing, and is certainly a fantastic illustration of how much progress has been made in developing wheat varietes since my ancestors first brought their wheat seeds from Russia to Kansas between the years 1880 and 1917.

Ronda Miller 6 years, 4 months ago

Interesting article for us farm kids for sure. Thanks for 'the memories, Ron. I can certainly remember when 30 bushels per acre was quite a good harvest year. Congrats and thanks to all the farmers for their labor in all types of weather.

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