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Organic Winter Wheat Topped 100 Bushel Yields in Montana

Big yields are unusual for organic grain.

March 26, 2008

1 Min Read

Organic wheat isn't supposed to yield 100 bushels per acre, but it did in Bozeman, Mont., last year.

Scientists are scratching their heads over how a plot of organic winter wheat at the Post Research Farm hit the 101 bushel mark. Nearby organic plots tested almost as high in the high 90s, reports Percy Miller, Montana State University cropping systems researcher.

The precedent-setting harvest was on a plot that had been managed organically for four years prior to the 2007 winter wheat planting. Winter peas were used in the year before.

"I still can't fully explain where all the yield came from," says Miller. "I thought we might have a 70-bushel-per-acre crop. The first inkling that it would be a big yielder was when we started combining and realized we needed to get bigger sample bags.

"The timing of moisture must have been near perfect, because in July we had only a tenth of an inch of rain and 100-year record-breaking heat, too."

The yield came with Yellowstone hard red winter wheat, developed by MSU wheat breeder Phil Bruckner. Conventionally fertilized plots of Yellowstone at the same site yielded 121 bushels an acre.

While high yield sometimes comes at the expense of protein in organic production, all of the winter wheat plots at Bozeman yielded better than 12.5% protein in 2007.

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