From crop failure to top yield, Darren Nelson wins Central Region of Kansas Wheat Yield Contest

Posted October 1, 2015

Darren is the fifth generation to farm in Kansas. He and his father Jim run a no-till operation that includes wheat, soybeans and grain sorghum.

Darren is the fifth generation to farm in Kansas. He and his father Jim run a no-till operation that includes wheat, soybeans and grain sorghum.

A combination of good management decisions, solid wheat genetics and the right amount of moisture at the right time resulted in winning yields for Darren Nelson of Hutchinson. His 8.756 acre plot planted with a blend of T158 (Limagrain) and Everest (Kansas Wheat Alliance) yielded 108.48 bushels per acre, earning the first time entrant the top yield in the Central Region of the Kansas Wheat Yield Contest.

“On our competition field, we really did not do anything different,” Nelson said. “The conditions were all just excellent.”

Nelson explained this year’s success was due, in part, to last year’s crop failure. He explained that this year’s winning field yielded only about 15 bushels per acre the previous year. However, the drought-stricken 2014 wheat crop left nutrients in the soil, feeding the 2015 wheat crop from the start of development. Nelson said he was initially concerned the variety blend had over-tillered in the fall and would not fill in the end.

But, wet weather arrived as the wheat crop jointed and moisture continued throughout grain fill. With the rain, however, stripe rust moved into the area. As a result, Nelson said he and his father Jim applied fungicides twice, once at jointing and once at flag leaf. Those applications proved key to successful final yields as he saw 30 bushels per acre difference in fields where fungicide was or was not applied.

In addition to good management decisions, Nelson also utilized new threshing technology to harvest this year’s crop. Off the farm, Nelson works with Tribine in Newton, a company working to develop a completely new combine architecture. He put some of that new technology to the test during harvest with a Case 7088 combine, unchipped, which tested out some new threshing concepts developed by Bob Matousek. 

“We were doing things we probably should not be able to do with this machine,” he said.

The combination of good management and ingenuity exhibited by Nelson embody the goal of the Kansas Wheat Yield Contest – to recognize Kansas wheat farmers for their dedication to best management practices and celebrate their success. Congratulations Darren Nelson!

By Julia Debes