Scouting and management leads to top wheat yield in Ohio

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader: a project of the Ohio Soybean Council and soybean checkoff

When New Vision Farms started planting wheat in the fall of 2019, they had no expectation of winning a state yield contest a year later.

“We started planting wheat the first week of October,” said Mark Hoorman, agronomy production manager for New Vision Farms. “We planted the wheat and managed it just like we would any of our other crops.” 

Mark Hoorman with New Vision Farms won the 2020 National Wheat Yield Contest category of Winter Wheat – Dryland for the State of Ohio, with a yield of 118.27 bushels per acre.

New Vision Farms is located in Henry County, and grows wheat, corn, popcorn, soybeans, and green beans. According to the National Ag Statistics Service, four of the top five wheat producing counties in the state, (based on acres planted), are located in Northwest Ohio. Henry County consistently ranks in the top five wheat producing counites in Ohio, with 20,400 acres planted in 2020 and an average county yield of 78.8 bushels per acre. 

The National Wheat Yield Contest is sponsored by the National Wheat Foundation and offers growers the opportunity to compete with their peers across the United States and learn from each other’s innovative techniques to improve wheat productivity. The contest has two levels. One is yield basis with no regard for USDA county averages. This contest selects the highest yielding entry from each State for each category. Those categories include Winter Irrigated, Spring Irrigated, Winter Dryland, and Spring Dryland. The other contest level is based on the percentage increase by which their measured yield exceeds the most recent 5-year olympic county average, published annually by USDA.

New Vision Farms competed in the first level, and won the 2020 National Wheat Yield Contest category of Winter Wheat – Dryland for the State of Ohio, with a yield of 118.27 bushels per acre. 

“This was the first year we made an entry in the contest,” said Hoorman, who is also a past board member and Chairman of the Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association. “In my time on the board, I became familiar with the contest from other association members who had entered in the previous years, so I thought that once I went off the board, we would submit an entry.” 

Their 2020 entry was AgriPro 547. The field that New Vision Farms had the winning wheat yield in has a Mermil soil type, and is well drained. 

“That field is on one of our better farms, and is one we grow green beans on. The wheat actually followed green beans,” Hoorman said. “Typically, on that farm we have a four-crop rotation of popcorn, field corn, green beans, and wheat. We’ve found that wheat usually does pretty well after green beans.” 

The management of the winning yield field was not any different than any of the other wheat fields that New Vision Farms raised in 2020. 

“We typically scout our fields regularly, and make management decisions accordingly,” Hoorman said. “This particular field was planted the first week of October, then in the spring we applied 110 units of nitrogen topdress fertilizer as a single pass at the end of April. We got busy with planting our other crops, but kept an eye on it, and when scouting found armyworms were increasing up to the threshold. We sprayed with an insecticide, and also added a foliar fertilizer with the trip. We got back to planting our other crops and sidedressing corn, but kept scouting, and found the armyworms were coming back again and increasing in numbers up to the threshold. We actually sprayed an insecticide a second time, and again, added a foliar fertilizer. The first time we used Taskforce, and the second time we used Black Label Zink, which are both Loveland products. We then ended up spraying the field a third time with a fungicide for head scab. This time we used Caramba. We typically will not make that many trips across the field, but the armyworms made it necessary to spray, so we decided to add the foliar to help the crop along.”

With the success of winning the 2020 National Wheat Yield Contest category of Winter Wheat – Dryland for the State of Ohio, came the use of a new J&M LC390 seed tender. New Vision Farms has already made an entry in the 2021 2020 National Wheat Yield Contest. 

“It is AgriPro 547 again, and it is following green beans. Hopefully lightening will strike twice,” Hoorman said. 

Other Ohio entries in the 2020 national contest included Jim Dauch from Sandusky County with 116.02-bushel wheat with Pioneer 25R61 and David Lutz from Trumbull County with 114.67 bushels with Ebberts 957.

In 2021, Ohio’s wheat growers are poised for another strong crop. Heading into mid-June Ohio’s winter wheat crop condition was rated 20% “Excellent” and 57% “Good” by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Adequate soil moisture, and often cool conditions through much of spring helped set the stage for low disease levels and high yield potential for wheat in many parts of the state. Heading wheat and mature wheat were at or near the 5-year average for the state. 

Now with combines rolling, strong yield reports are expected.

See a full listing of 2020 national wheat yield winners at: https://wheatfoundation.org/.

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