103 bushels in western Kansas wins yield contest

by Laura Lloyd
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Darwin Ediger of Meade County, Kas., takes the top prize.

MANHATTAN, KAN. — A farmer in Meade County, Kas. — halfway between Dodge City and Liberal on the Kansas-Oklahoma border — won the western region 2015 wheat yield contest sponsored by Kansas Wheat and received a $250 prize from Governor Sam Brownback at the Kansas State Fair on Sept. 17.

Darwin Ediger’s 6½-acre plot yielded 103.18 bus per acre of WB 4458 (WestBred) hard red winter wheat and also displayed the best milling and baking qualities among contest entrants, said Justin Gilpin, chief executive officer of Kansas Wheat. Samples judged on quality attributes were graded by the Kansas Grain Inspection Service and analyzed at the Archer Daniels Midland Co. milling laboratory in Kansas City.

“Darwin’s winning wheat yielded more than 100 bus per acre and still won the quality contest,” Mr. Gilpin said. “That is pretty amazing.”

Mr. Ediger praised the WB 4458 winter-wheat variety in his fields as a superior cultivar, especially during the period when wheat kernels were filling.

“When conditions are right, it is going to keep putting the berries on,” he said.

He said wheat breeders were continuing to improve available varieties, which made choosing which one to plant more difficult each growing season because of the expanding variety of attractive options.

Mr. Edigar implemented management practices in his dryland wheat operation that include cutting-edge drone technology to spot trouble spots in the middle of fields that aren’t easy to see at ground level. He also utilized no-till practices to maintain optimum soil fertility, and made a point of applying fungicide early to keep disease pressure at bay.

“Each field is treated differently than the next,” he said. “Good management practices are just as important for cost savings as yield increases.”

Wheat producers with top yields in other parts of Kansas also received a $250 prize at the state fair. The central region winner was Darren Nelson of Hutchinson, Kas., with a yield of 108.48 bus an acre. The eastern region winner was Doug Queen of Rossville, Kas., with a yield of 70.3 bus an acre, said Kansas Wheat.
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