Biebers Awarded 2nd Prize at National Wheat Yield Contest

Local farmers, Justin Bieber, and his dad, Jeff, have been looking to increase profitability on their 1700 acres of irrigated farmland since the closure of the Sidney Sugars plant ended decades of sugar beet growing. The three primary crops they now raise are corn, wheat, and soybeans. Looking to increase yields, Justin delved into various varieties of wheat. The duo settled on WestBred Wheat 9719 due to its proven high yield and good standability.

That variety, with increased nitrogen, and trying some new farming practices, yielded 109.33 bushels per acre, which was an excellent bump in yields. It also earned the Biebers second place at the National Wheat Contest and a trip to the 2024 Commodity Classic in late February in Houston, TX, where they will be honored along with other winners at the National Wheat Show banquet. Jeff said that theirs was the first entry from this area in the contest, but many farmers have grown over 100 bushels per acre over the years.

The contest field seed was pre-treated with a fungicide/insecticide treatment and the field was fall fertilized prior to planting on the previous year’s soybean field. Typically, their fertilizer rates for nitrogen are 150-160 units broadcast in the fall. The trial field had 160 units of nitrogen on it. Then, after tillering, during jointing, they used a sprayer with stream bars on it to apply 20 gallons per acre of 28%, which is the equivalent of 60 more units of nitrogen. This was applied on about half the field so that half had a total of 220 units of applied nitrogen. Justin said that one benefit of waiting to apply in season is that the wheat plant will not tiller as much as if the nitrogen was applied before planting. By waiting until tillering was completed, the plant focuses on making grain instead of making a bigger plant. The difference in the two halves of the field was remarkable with the half receiving the extra nitrogen taking on a fuller, darker, healthier look.

The real test came when the combine entered the field. The first half with the 160 units of nitrogen yielded 90 bushels per acre, so it was running better than Bieber’s average yields just from switching to a WestBred variety. When they entered the test half of the field with 220 units of nitrogen, the yield monitor in the combine showed a definite increase in bushels per acre. Documentation is required to enter the National Wheat Yield Contest, so Leslie Tveit was recruited to certify that the acres were measured correctly, and the combine and truck were empty before starting the trial. The truck was then weighed at the elevator to verify the production. Thank you, Leslie for the help.

The final yield was 109 bushels per acre, which was a 20-bushel bump. Test weight was in the 60-lb. range, with protein around 14. After penciling out all the costs the extra nitrogen provided an additional return of $76 per acre in a cash rent scenario!

The Biebers said they entered the National Wheat Yield Contest to prove that WestBred wheat seed could generate a yield of 100 bushels or more since it’s critical that farmers receive as high of a return as possible, enabling them to keep wheat in the rotation on their farm as a profitable option. The second was to prove the value of stream barring the nitrogen on in-season. The goal is to increase profitability by having the farm produce 100 plus bushels of wheat per acre every year.

Biebers are sharing their information since all the former beet growers are under the same conditions. “We are all trying to find cropping options and new-to-the-area farming practices to maximize returns to the farm,” Jeff said. Sharing information and trial data is a proven way to shorten the learning curve.

Justin is entering his second year as a dealer for West Bred. Anyone interested in seeing these and other irrigated and dryland strip trial results is welcome to call him at 406-489-2188.

 

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