Wheat yields have been a heated topic of discussion at coffee shops across Kansas for years. But seven years ago, Kansas Wheat decided to up the ante and see who really had the best yields in the state. Farmers from all over the state, like Darwin Ediger of Meade, enter the Kansas Wheat Yield Contest for bragging rights and a potential for up to $1,750 in prize money.
Ediger was last year’s Western Region winner, as well as the quality initiative winner. Ediger planted WB 4458 (Westbred) on a 6.48 acre plot near Meade. His winning yield was 103.18 bushels an acre. His wheat sample was also graded as the overall best quality wheat submitted through the contest. This result was determined by the overall quality and mill and bake scores.
Even the best varieties, however, cannot succeed without good management. Ediger and his son Tyler have implemented best management practices into their dryland wheat and grain sorghum operation. That includes utilizing no-till to improve soil fertility and increase organic matter, testing for nitrogen and sulfur levels each year and applying yield maps when writing prescription maps for every field. Ediger said he and his son also emphasize the importance of seed treatments to establish good root development and plant health from the start as well as applying fungicide early, before disease pressure starts to show.
“I’ve never seen a year where management has made such a huge difference,” said Ediger. “Good management practices are just as important for cost savings as yield increases.”
Ediger’s management practices are important for more than high yields. He explained that all of his wheat is used for certified seed, so aiming for top quality is imperative every year.
“Quality was bred into me since I was young,” Ediger said. “You never attain 100 percent quality, but you shoot for it.”
Despite the obstacles thrown in yearly by Mother Nature, Kansas wheat farmers still have much to look forward to.
“The wheat industry has changed so much in the last five or six years. It is exciting,” he said. He remarked that wheat breeders are providing such great varieties that it has become harder to make selections each year – a good problem to have, especially when one is entering a yield contest.
The 2016 Kansas Wheat Yield Contest is sponsored by WestBred, Kansas Wheat Alliance, Limagrain, Plains Gold, AgriPro and Kansas Wheat. Winners from all three regions win $1,000 and if the regional winners use a variety from a sponsor of the contest, they will receive an additional $500. The samples from the optional quality initiative will be evaluated for quality components such as test weight, protein content, variety and kernel quality. Top scoring samples will undergo further testing at ADM Milling’s Quality Laboratory in Kansas City. The sample with the top quality score will receive $250 in cash.
The application deadline for the 2016 Kansas Wheat Yield Contest is June 1, 2016. A Management Form, Harvest Rules, and a Harvest Report Form will be mailed to the contestant prior to harvest. These forms, along with the quality initiative sample, must be postmarked by July 8, 2016. For more information on the contest, please visit www.kansaswheat.org/yieldcontest.