Phillip Gross grew the highest number of bushels of wheat per acre in the entire country for the second year in the row.
Gross, who farms with the Warden, Wash., Hutterian Brethren, had 184.29 bushels per acre for his irrigated winter wheat in the National Wheat Foundation’s national wheat yield contest.
Gross was the big winner last year, too, with a yield of 192.85 bushels per acre.
“To win it again was actually quite surprising,” Gross said, noting his wheat did not look as good as it usually does through the year. It wasn’t tillering as heavy as normal and seemed to be suffering due to high soil moisture and long snow cover.
“We really had to spoon-feed it, give it some extra nutrients to encourage it to flower as good as it can,” Gross said. “In the end, it turned out all right.”
The Warden Hutterians worked to reduce stress on the plant as much as possible so that the wheat kernels would gain as much weight as they could, Gross said.
Gross planted LCS Jet. The Limagrain Cereal Seeds variety has avoided winterkill and lodging and seems to be “pretty stout,” he said.
The Warden Hutterians raise 10,000 acres of irrigated winter wheat and 2,500 to 3,000 acres of dryland winter wheat. They’re raising LCS Jet again this year, as well as other Limagrain and WestBred varieties.
Currently, the crop is a little behind the normal growth stage, Gross said, but looks “pretty healthy and decent.”
Gross expects to enter the competition again. He finds the results interesting, noting several other winners came from his area.
“I think the spirit of competition is definitely alive, which makes it all the more interesting,” he said.
Winter wheat yields averaged 50.2 bushels per acre in 2017, according to the USDA, down 9.2 percent from 55.3 bushels for the 2016-2017 marketing year, which was a record, according to the National Association of Wheat Growers.
The foundation received 287 total entries. The nonprofit organization in Washington D.C., is governed by a nine-member board of directors and managed by staff of the National Association of Wheat Growers, the foundation’s only member.
National winners will be recognized at the 2018 Commodity Classic Feb. 27-March 1 in Anaheim, Calif.
Official rules and entry details for the 2018 contest will be available by Jan. 1, 2018.