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Wheat farmer wins contest with 105-bushel yield

  • Published Friday, August 5, 2011, at 12:07 a.m.
  • Updated Friday, August 5, 2011, at 6:39 a.m.

MINNEAPOLIS, Kan. —A north-central Kansas farmer whose wheat fields 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.

"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.

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