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North Dakota farmer wins National Wheat Yield Contest

John Hofer won the National Wheat Yield Contest for dryland spring wheat with a yield of 122.27 bushel an acre.

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John Hofer and Deb Anderson were both blown away with the overall quality and yield that Hofer's wheat acres put out this year. Photo taken Nov. 1, 2021 in Milnor, North Dakota. Emily Beal / Agweek

MILNOR, North Dakota — John Hofer, a diversified crop farmer, recently was named the "bin buster" in dryland spring wheat in the National Wheat Foundation's National Wheat Yield Contest with a yield of 122.27 bushel an acre.

Hofer planted the WestBred 9590 variety that held up well against the irregular excessive heat the region saw over the growing months, along with the lack of rainfall. However, timely rains greatly helped Hofer’s acres and his overall yield.

“We were dry just like everybody else, but the rains came at just the right time. It worked,” Hofer said. “It was just a matter of who was under the cloud at the right time.”

Deb Anderson, the owner and operator of Deb’s Seed Sales, entered Hofer in the National Wheat Yield Contest, though he was hesitant to enter. Hofer was expecting a lower yield than what was harvested because of the unfavorable weather conditions.

Anderson sold Hofer the WestBred variety, which he had been utilizing in his fields for the past six years. According to Anderson, the WestBred variety yields exceptionally well and is known for having a great test weight and high protein content. Anderson was excited when she found out Hofer had won the county level and then the state level of the yield competition, and she was pleasantly surprised when she heard the news of Hofer’s wheat taking the national title.

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“Considering what little bit of rainfall and how hot it was, we just did not expect to have as good of wheat as we did. It was all just very exciting,” Anderson said.

Jeff Koscelny, cereals account management lead for Bayer Crop Science and the WestBred brand, applauded farmers for their perseverance during a turbulent year. Attributing their yield success to not only genetics but their management practices and hard work they put into the soil.

“The farmers really made the best of a very challenging situation this year,” he said.

Koscelny said many producers around the country who were dealing with drought were surprised by how well the wheat performed in less than ideal weather conditions. However, though the weather had many negative impacts, Koscelny believes that these weather events help with the development of stronger genetics that can withstand tough conditions like the ones many saw this year.

“This year certainly was an anomaly, but we really have to have those anomalies to truly understand how your genetics perform, not only in the good years but also in the challenging years,” he said.

Dallas Diesen, of Wannaska, Minnesota, placed right below Hofer in the dryland spring wheat category, with a yield of 114.81 bushels per acre, also with the WestBred 9590 variety. Robert Holzwarth of Hazel, South Dakota, with 110.5444 bushels per acre out of Limagrain LCS Cannon, and Bruce Anderson of Valley City, North Dakota, with 108.231 out of West Bred 9590, also were honored for their dryland spring wheat performance.

Greg Messer, Chris Carlson and Jordan Christman, of Richardton, Mott and Hettinger, North Dakota, respectively, were honored for their improvement over the five-year Olympic county average as determined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Emily grew up on a small grains and goat farm in southern Ohio. After graduating from The Ohio State University, she moved to Fargo, North Dakota to pursue a career in ag journalism with Agweek. She enjoys reporting on livestock and local agricultural businesses.
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