February 25, 2020

Husband/Wife Wheat Growers Push Yield in North Dakota

Doug and Janelle Fitterer have been farming together for 17 years. Doug manages personnel, machinery and research, while Janelle spearheads IT, books and record keeping. They make major input decisions together, and it’s all hands on deck when it comes to running machinery.


While the pair has their farming responsibilities well-honed, 2019 was their first year entering the National Wheat Foundation’s National Wheat Yield Contest — and they won second place in the nation and first place in the state of North Dakota with WestBred® variety WB9590. Their win was in the Spring Wheat – Dryland, Percentage Increase category with a yield of 96.07 Bu/A — a 191.12% increase over their USDA county average.

“We enjoy challenging ourselves, and WB9590 has been a good, high-management wheat, which yielded well despite a wet 2019 harvest but also does well in drier conditions,” says Doug.

What does it take to be a successful wheat grower? “No matter where or what you grow, you have to stay on top of every detail, from agronomy to IT to marketing,” offers Janelle.

“High yield does no good if you don’t know your costs,” adds Doug. “Today’s technology is a great help in guiding decisions and analyzing fields, varieties, inputs and ROI. Paying attention to these details can really pay off in yield; wheat works really well for us, and it’s nice to see wheat in the spotlight.”

A Look at Fitterer Farm

  • Doug and Janelle Fitterer grow wheat, canola, corn and peas.
  • Weather posed the biggest challenge to their wheat in 2019. They had both a wet planting and a wet harvest.
  • Doug says WB9590 and WB9719 WestBred varieties work well for them and “respond well to fertility management and fungicide applications.”

As winners of the National Wheat Yield Contest, the Fitterers will receive an all-expenses paid trip for two (courtesy of the National Wheat Foundation and WestBred wheat) to the 2020 Commodity Classic in San Antonio, Texas. “We’re looking forward to meeting and talking with progressive farmers from across the country,” says Doug. “We all have one thing in common — we eat, sleep and breathe farming. To do well, you have to pay attention to details, but most of all you have to really love what you do.”

Troy Sayler, Regional Commercial Manager, WestBred wheat, says the Fitterers embody “what it takes” to be successful wheat growers. “Doug and Janelle are very progressive wheat growers and are typically among the first to try a new technology,” he says.