UK farmer sets world wheat record

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Northumberland map

CARY, N.C. — United Kingdom wheat producer Rod Smith and a passenger in his combine couldn’t believe what the yield monitor was telling them.

As Smith’s tracked New Holland 9070 combine crawled along at 1.5 Km./Hr., trying to cope with harvesting a very heavy grain load, the monitor was showing over 23 T./hectare (one hectare equals 2.471 acres).

“We had to take a picture of the yield monitor to prove our eyes weren’t deceiving us,” Smith said. “This field had a history of high yields, but we’d never seen these sort of peaks before.”

When the combine dust had cleared over the 11.259-hectare field, Smith and his father, James, and wife, Vicky, had harvested 16.52 T./Ha. (249.6 Bu./A), shattering the previous wheat yield set by New Zealander Mike Solari, at 15.64 T./Ha.

The Smith’s Beal Farm is located in Northumberland near the Scottish border overlooking Holy Island.

Dickens variety

Its record-breaking yield was set by a Dickens variety grown for Master Seeds. And, with a total input cost of under 46 British lbs./T., the crop generated a gross margin of over 1000 British lbs./Ha. ($1,411.26 U.S./Ha. or $571.33 U.S./A.) at a feed wheat price, before accounting for the extra returns from a seed crop.

The Beal Farm agronomy team was assisted by agronomists at agricultural retailer Agrii as a part of its British 15-Tonnes Project to help farmers push wheat yield boundaries.

“Our initial focus was on soil management,” Smith said. “We used tracked equipment, effective subsoiling, rotational plowing, furrow incorporation and the application of 500 T./Ha. of muck annually. We also relied on soil testing and broad-spectrum tissue analyses.”

The Dickens wheat variety was drilled the third week of September in 2014 into a seedbed established by two diskings and a cultipress. With excellent soil moisture, the wheat established really well and evenly, Smith said.

He also put on a fall application of Nutri-Phite PGA, a patented technology developed by Verdesian Life Sciences and available to U.S. farmers under the brand name Take Off. It was applied in a tank mix with a broadleaf herbicide and insecticide. Also assisting the record-breaking yield were four split nitrogen applications — two of which involved stabilized urea — and four fungicide sprays.

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