Taking the top prize at the National Wheat Yield Contest (NWYC) is no easy feat. Growers face uncertain conditions at the beginning of the season. But, bringing in a record-setting yield comes with many rewards, and for a select few growers, they can claim they produced the highest yields in the country.
So what does it take to have an award-winning season and harvest? To find out, we talked with grower and NWYC winner Marc Arnusch from Prospect Valley, Colorado. His operation, Arnusch Farms, took the top prize in the Winter Wheat - Irrigated class for 2019, with a yield result of 210.52 bushels per acre growing WB4418.
To start, you need good weather. The 2019 growing year delivered for Marc. “We had perfect growing conditions in the fall. The crop came up immediately, established itself, tillered, and in spring of 2019 didn’t let us down. Mother Nature was truly on our side that year, and we just had incredible yield potential all the way through the entire farm.”
The next important milestone is to recognize that there’s something different about this crop, which can come early on when selecting varieties. “We really thought something was special about this crop when we planted it. It leaped out of the ground and kept ongoing. We continued to think we had something special when Andrew Blubaugh from WestBred came out and said, ‘Have you done a headcount for WB4418? Do you realize the yield potential you have in that field?’ I responded, ‘If I could harvest two-thirds of what that yield counter says I should be harvesting, I'll be super happy.’”
Those early estimates were spot on, and a perfect growing season allowed Marc to harvest 100% of his early headcounts. “That’s why we blew the doors off the yield record that we had on our farm before. I didn’t think 210-bushel wheat was doable in the eastern plains of Colorado.”
With his winning crop in the books, Marc was able to take a trip to the 2019 Commodity Classic in San Antonio. But for Marc, the best rewards were not accolades for his impressive yield result, but the intangible. “We don't enter this NWYC for bragging rights, and we don't enter this contest to tell people we grow good wheat. We enter this contest to challenge ourselves and learn from others, and that's truly the takeaway. The recognition of our farm is great, but the learning experience is easily more powerful.”
Did you have a record season like Marc? Winners for the NWYC will be announced soon. In the meantime, connect with us on Facebook and Twitter to let us know how your season went. You can also view individual region plot reports to get an idea of the competition here.
To share your wheat story with WestBred, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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