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LANSING, MI – Michigan growers knew they had a good crop, but not only was it a good Michigan crop, it was good nationally as well. Michigan wheat farmers Gordon Briggs and David Eickholt represented the Great Lakes state by taking 2nd and 5th place in the new National Wheat Yield Contest.  Briggs from Scottville place second in the irrigated winter wheat category and Eickholt from Chesaning garnered fifth in the dryland winter wheat category of the contest, which was sponsored by Monsanto, BASF, John Deere and Winfield.

“Most Michigan wheat farmers were very pleased with their harvest in 2016,” said David Milligan chairman of the Michigan Wheat Program and farmer from Cass City.  “We were excited to set new statewide records for total production and yield per acre. We were also very pleased to see the good showing from Michigan farmers as the results were shared in the National Wheat Yield Contest.”

“We knew we had a good year, but to have three growers finish with yields above 130 bushels per acre in the dryland category and two above 140 bushels per acre in the irrigated category gave us an additional sense of pride as our yields were compared with other growers from across the nation,” Milligan said.

The National Wheat Yield Contest – which was restarted in 2016 after a 20-year hiatus – evaluates wheat yield in four categories by comparing the farmer’s yield against the average wheat yield in their county of residence. Farmers compete in either spring or winter wheat and then either irrigated or dryland. Each state has winners in either irrigated or dryland production and from those winners the national winners are selected.

Michigan growers produce winter wheat, so all of the winners in Michigan were in the winter wheat category.

Michigan’s top finisher was Gordon Briggs of Briggs Farms, Inc., in Scottville (Mason County), who placed second in the irrigated winter wheat category.  Briggs’s final yield was 167.4 bushels per acre, which was 170 percent above the average in Mason County.  Also placing from Michigan in the irrigated category was Charles Eickholt of Chesaning with 141 bushels per acre which is 108 percent above the county average.

In the overall contest, placing fifth in the dryland (nonirrigated) winter wheat category was David Eickholt of Chesaning (Shiawassee County).  Eickholt’s 2016 yield was 147.7 bushels per acre, which was 117 percent above the average yield in Shiawassee County.  Also placing in the Michigan dryland category were:  Mark Kleinheksel from Allegan county taking second at 132 bushels per acre which is 98 percent of the county yield.  Placing third from Michigan was Dennis Philpot of Sanilac County at 132 bushels per acre which is 72 percent above his county average.

For perspective, Michigan wheat farmers set a record this past summer with a state average yield of 89 bushels per acre.  The national average is only 55 bushels per acre.  Michigan’s total yield in 2016 was also a record at 50.7 million bushels, which surpassed 2013’s crop of 45 million bushels of wheat.  With a national harvest of 1.7 billion bushels, Michigan produces about three percent of the nation’s total wheat crop and ranks annually between 10th and 12th in wheat production.

“Clearly Michigan is a fantastic location for growing wheat!  Not only does our climate make us a great place for wheat, but our innovative farmers make wheat a strong crop in the Great Lakes state.  As we look at a 14-bushel increase in our average yield per acre over just the past four years, it gives growers a reason to give wheat a second look,” commented Jody Pollok-Newsom, executive director of the Michigan Wheat Program. “To learn more, we invite growers to attend our Michigan Wheat Program 2017 Annual Winter Grower Meeting, March 14, 2017 at the Bavarian Inn Lodge in Frankenmuth. Both Briggs and Eickholt will be on a panel discussing their outstanding yields.”

The 2016 winners of the National Wheat Yield Contest will be recognized at the 2017 Commodity Classic conference in San Antonio, Texas.  Michigan wheat growers interested in competing in the 2017 National Wheat Yield Contest can enter through the Michigan Wheat Program website at www.miwheat.org.

The Michigan Wheat Program is funded by nearly 8,000 farmers who grow wheat in 50 of Michigan’s 83 counties.  The Michigan Wheat Program board seeks to promote the state’s wheat industry by funding and supporting the strategic priorities of wheat farmers by working with input suppliers, seed producers, millers, end users and consumers.  Research on wheat production practices and grower education is a primary emphasis for the Michigan Wheat Program.  Information about Michigan’s wheat industry is found at the miwheat.org website, or by calling 888-WHEAT01 (888-943-2801).

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