Buhl Farmer

Buhl Farmer

David Sparks Ph.D.
David Sparks Ph.D.
The National Wheat Yield Contest announced its 2019 winners Tuesday and Pearson did the unthinkable. On one of his fields outside of Buhl, he harvested a field that yielded an astounding 211.59 bushels per acre.

"I just got lucky I guess,” said Pearson, “I never dreamed it was that good.”

Marc Arnusch of Keenesburg, Colorado, took second, his irrigated winter wheat field turned a strong 210.52 bpa, while Phillip Gross, of Warden, Washington, hit 200.48 bpa.

Pearson farms above and below the canyons of Snake River on rich, river-fed soils, he says the winning field was densely packed. “I drove by it every day,” he said. “ and we had near perfect conditions.”

Shawn Kimbrell, from Texas, yielded 70.93 bushels per acres of hard red, winter wheat on his dryland farm on the semi-arid High Plains of Texas, where wheat is more often forage for livestock than award-winning grain.

Pearson won the contest's Bin Buster Award for irrigated wheat this year, which recognizes the highest-yielding irrigated wheat entry. Kimbrell won first place in the dryland winter wheat category for the highest above-average wheat entry -- his field was 373% above his county's five-year average of 15 bpa.

The National Wheat Foundation's annual wheat yield contest wants to recognize yields, while also pushing growers to ask more of the tough, versatile grain crop.

For the first time, the contest now recognizes two tiers of winners -- high-yield winners and winners who produce the highest above-average yields for their region. It also recognizes two overall winners for the highest-yielding irrigated and dryland wheat called Bin Buster awards. Here are 2019's Bin Buster and First Place winners:

-- BIN BUSTER IRRIGATED WINNER: Rick Pearson, Buhl, Idaho: 211.59 bpa, AgriPro SY Ovation.

-- BIN BUSTER DRYLAND WINNER: Tom Duyck, Forest Grove, Oregon: 191.66 bpa, OSU Rosalyn.

-- FIRST PLACE, HIGH YIELD, IRRIGATED WINTER WHEAT: Marc Arnusch, Keenesburg, Colorado: 210.52 bpa, WB 4418.

-- FIRST PLACE, HIGH YIELD, DRYLAND WINTER WHEAT: Doug Stout, Genesee, Idaho: 181.93 bpa, WB Keldin.

-- FIRST PLACE, HIGH YIELD, IRRIGATED SPRING WHEAT: Derek Friehe, Moses Lake, Washington: 180.77 bpa, WB 9668.

-- FIRST PLACE, HIGH YIELD, DRYLAND SPRING WHEAT: Trevor Stout, Genesee, Idaho: 111.13, WB 9668.

-- FIRST PLACE, ABOVE-AVERAGE YIELD, DRYLAND WINTER WHEAT: Shawn Kimbrell, Sunray, Texas: 70.93 bpa (372.87% above county avg), WB Winterhawk.

-- FIRST PLACE ABOVE-AVERAGE YIELD, DRYLAND SPRING WHEAT: Derrick Enos, Baker, Montana: 94.95 bpa (239.11% above county avg), LCS Trigger.

See full details on the winners here: https://wheatfoundation.org/….

This year, the contest received 397 initial entries, up 25% from last year. The contest finished with 154 final harvested samples, down slightly from last year and a sign of the historically challenging environmental conditions of 2019, Joehl said.

Pearson's top-yielding field in Idaho went in behind a potato crop, so the soil was brimming with leftover fertility, he noted. But in the springtime, it got another dose of nitrogen, herbicides, fungicides and a plant growth regulator that thickened the stalk and helped it stay standing until harvest.

Pearson treats his wheat acres the same, contest entries and all. In fact, his winning contest entry lay within 65 acres that averaged an overall yield of 191 bpa. "It was some of our best ground," he notes.

The contest is turning into a valuable database for the industry, as wheat yields and quality results are gathered along with the contestants' wide range of management practices each year, the Wheat Foundation  hopes that, someday, this information of agronomic insights will push generations of wheat growers to discover new and more profitable ways to grow high-quality wheat.

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