Top wheat yield contest entries surpass 130 bushels

Farmers with three of the top four entries in the Illinois Wheat Association’s (IWA) 2021 yield contest pose with their awards at IWA’s summer forum in Okawville. Those pictured are, left to right: David Justison of Montgomery County, Mark Krausz of Clinton County and Dan Rubin of Fayette County. (Photo by Daniel Grant)

The Illinois Wheat Association (IWA) started its state yield contest to encourage farmers to share agronomic tips and reap the benefits of enhanced management.

And farmers in this year’s contest certainly pushed yields to impressive heights, with the help of Mother Nature of course, as the top three finalists all surpassed 130 bushels per acre.

Mark Krausz, IWA vice president from New Baden (Clinton County), won the 2021 wheat yield contest with an entry of 133.4 bushels per acre using AgriMAXX AM 505 variety.

Kevin, Wayne and Randy Probst, Effingham County, placed second with 131.9 bushels per acre using GROWMARK FS 603. Dan Rubin, IWA president from Fayette County, placed third at 130.3 bushels with Pioneer 25R61 while David Justison, Montgomery County, finished fourth at 128.2 bushels using AgriMAXX 454.

“Our farm average was great,” Krausz said at IWA’s summer forum in Okawville. “We got it cut timely and it didn’t get rained on (after a long grain fill period). I was very satisfied with the quality.”

Overall, IWA received 23 entries from 15 counties for this year’s contest. And the top 10 all reached or surpassed 108.5 bushels per acre.

“I think the Illinois Wheat Association has made an impact on wheat production in general,” Krausz said. “I’d like to see more participants (in the contest) continue to push wheat yields up.”

Krausz, who plants wheat on a third of his acres, generally plants at a rate of 1.8 million seeds per acre while Rubin, who grows between 500 and 600 acres of wheat annually, shoots for a planting rate around 1.7 million seeds per acre. Both utilize split-nitrogen applications.

Justison planted 1,171 acres of wheat last year and ended up with a whole farm average of 99.9 bushels per acre. He plans to increase wheat plantings by about 200 acres this fall.

“I’m going to have to be $10 an acre better next year to cover increased fertilizer costs,” Justison said.

Krausz, Rubin and Justison all use between a 7- and 8-inch spaced drill for planting.

“We try to make as good of seedbed as we can,” Rubin said. “We’re always willing to try new things.”

The combination of a record statewide wheat yield average (80 bushels per acre) combined with profitable prices could incentivize farmers to plant more acres this fall.

“It sounds like early seed orders are up,” Krausz said. “I think there will be a lot more acres planted.”

Illinois farmers planted 700,000 acres of wheat last year, up from 570,000 the previous year.