Farm Progress

Neil Bekemeyer wins Wheat Quality Initiative contest; honored at fair along with yield winners

Neil Bekemeyer tops field for wheat quality; yield winners are Alec Horton, Richard Seck and Spencer West.

September 22, 2017

3 Min Read
WHEAT WINNERS: Wheat Yield Contest winners were honored at the Kansas State Fair on Sept. 14. From left are Alec Horton, Western Region winner; Richard Seck, Central Region winner; Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer; Spencer West, Eastern Region and overall winner; Neil Bekemeyer, wheat quality initiative winner; and Scott Van Allen, president of Kansas Wheat.

By P.J. Griekspoor and Jordan Hildebrand

Washington farmer Neal Bekemeyer is this year’s Kansas Wheat Quality Initiative winner, earning the highest overall milling and baking quality scores of any entrant in the Kansas Wheat Yield Contest. He received a $250 check presented by Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer during the Kansas State Fair.

Bekemeyer's quality sample came from a 5.79-acre plot of SY Monument, an AgriPro/Syngenta variety, and had superior milling and baking qualities while yielding 96.49 bushels per acre. While the yield fell short of taking home the Central Region yield award, Bekemeyer said his operation is focusing on growing a high-quality crop that he can market directly to consumers.

"I am so excited to be honored by this contest," said Bekemeyer. "Quality is what I have been so focused on for the last year, and that has been the most important factor for me."

Bekemeyer said he has set aside a few thousand bushels of wheat for flour milling and selling whole berries directly to consumers. He has partnered with a small "you-pick-it" hydroponic farm in Winter Garden, Fla., and will plan on selling his high-quality wheat directly to consumers online, as well.

In order to raise wheat of this caliber, Bekemeyer pays attention to good management practices.

"It's all about getting nutrition to the plant," said Bekemeyer. "We 'spoon-feed it,' bringing nitrogen directly to the plant, as well as apply micronutrients when needed. Another huge part of our program is finding good genetics. I seek out varieties with favorable baking and milling qualities and build the nutrition on top of that."

Bekemeyer's sample, along with the other entrants into the Quality Initiative component of the Kansas Wheat Yield Contest, was graded by the Kansas Grain Inspection Service and analyzed for quality by the ADM Milling Lab in Kansas City.

"The sample's stability time of more than 17 minutes with good protein levels and overall dough strength 'raised' this sample to the top this year," Justin Gilpin, Kansas Wheat CEO, said. "SY Monument has proven to be a high-quality wheat, and its performance is highlighted by this award."

Colyer also presented plaques and congratulations to the winners of this year’s wheat yield contest, which in spite of weather and disease challenges saw a new record high. Spencer West of LeRoy, the Eastern Region winner, took overall honors with a yield of 123.75 bushels per acre on his 5-acre contest plot.

West was a repeat winner in the Eastern Region, having also taken top yield honors in the 2016 contest. His winning variety was WB-Cedar, a WestBred product. He planted his winning plot on Nov. 10, 2016, using a seeding rate of 200 pounds per acre.

Central Region winner was Richard Seck of Hutchinson, who harvested 115.29 bushels to the acre on his 7-acre plot of LCS Mint, a Limagrain variety. He planted on Oct. 21, 2016, and used a seeding rate of 80 pounds per acre.

Alec Horton was this year's Western Region winner. He achieved a yield of 93 bushels per acre on his 5.98-acre plot of WB-Grainfield, a WestBred variety. He planted on Sept. 27, 2016, and used a seeding rate of 453,600 seeds per acre.

Horton is another repeat regional winner in the Kansas Wheat Yield Contest. Last year's plot smashed the recordbooks with a yield of 121.48 bushels an acre.

Justin Gilpin, CEO of Kansas Wheat, said, "Hosting the Kansas Wheat Yield Contest is an exciting part of what we do here. We're proud to recognize farmers across the state for their dedication to good management practices and celebrate their successes."

The 2017 Kansas Wheat Yield Contest is sponsored by Limagrain, WestBred, Kansas Wheat Alliance, AgriPro/Syngenta, ADM Milling and Kansas Wheat. Winners of the contest receive a $1,000 prize from the contest sponsors. Each winner will also receive a $500 prize, awarded by the company whose variety they planted.

Hildebrand writes for Kansas Wheat.

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