Do you grow wheat in a high-yield or low-yield part of the world?

A farmer in the UK set the new record for world wheat yield in 2015, growing 16.52 tonnes per hectare or 246 bushels per acre. He broke the previous record of 233 bushels per acre set in New Zealand in 2010.

In this Wheat School episode, RealAgriculture agronomist Peter Johnson offers a challenge to wheat growers in Canada who get roughly the same amount of sunlight as the record-setters in the British Isles and New Zealand.

“Harvesting sunshine is really what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to harvest sunlight and turn it into grain,” he explains.

From a solar energy perspective, Red Deer and Saskatoon are at the same latitude as the record-holder in the UK, while Johnson’s farm at Lucan, Ontario is in line with the latitude where earlier records were set in New Zealand.

“Yeah, we have to worry about moisture and high temperatures, but we get the sunlight to be a high-yield district,” he says.

As pointed out in this earlier episode, yields surpassing 120 bushels per acre are not uncommon in the UK. Wheat Pete believes Canadian wheat growers could achieve the same levels of production.

“We are high-yield. Let’s get there, let’s figure it out and let’s not waste any of that resource,” he says.

6 thoughts on “Wheat School: Do You Farm in a High-Yield or Low-Yield Wheat Zone?

  1. While I generally enjoy ‘Wheat Pete’ his assertion that we should be able to accomplish yields equal to the UK is totally misguided and simply over enthusiastic. He loves to totally dismiss important factors such as length of growing season, quality of soil and moisture quite willingly. Our number of days over 25C is also a huge factor. It’s not like there aren’t farmers around who have tried for those high yields, even on irrigation no one has gotten close to the 200bu mark. Simply we do not yet have the genetics to grow those extreme bushel numbers in the short growing seasons we have. There are probably chances at 100+ bu on dry land of the low quality wheat varieties but no ones gonna hit it like clockwork year in and year out like they do in the UK. And when we do get there I can assure you yields in the UK will have grown at the same rate as well. We are not equal to the UK, plain and simple.

  2. Totally agree Jon. Altitude, ocean currents, relative humidity over the course of the growing season all play a role. Where I farm, give me 10 days on both ends of the growing season and we would see much bigger yields. Then we could get much more growth on our winter wheat in the fall to capture this solar energy the following year. Now, the only way is to summerfallow.

  3. I really get tired of industry telling us we need to grow more and more when clearly the market is saying otherwise, then we wonder why as producers we continue to struggle year after year with low prices. There is a surplus of wheat in the world, in fact sitting on something like 220 MT. That’s more than at any point in recent history. So why should anyone want to grow more of something the world doesn’t need. Farmers! We do it to ourselves, while being led by people in the industry who clearly don’t have the best interest of the producers in mind

  4. while I agree with you Jon I must say that it is very possible to consistently grow 100 bushel wheat here in Canada. we have been for years

  5. So very true John , they want us to lose more money than we already do on $6 wheat . The industry doesn’t have a clue about the real world , why would we try grow 200 bus when there’s a glut ov wheat at the current yeild , grow a brain people!!

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