New Zealand Farmer Smashes His Own Wheat Yield World Record

Eric Watson, a farmer from Ashburton on New Zealand’s South Island, has set a new Guinness World Record for his wheat crop which yielded 17.4 tonnes per hectare.

Mr Watson held the title for his 2017 crop which yielded at 16.8 tonnes per hectare until he harvested his most recent crop in February this year.

Farming on the Canterbury Plains provides the Watsons with a near perfect environment for growing crops and, in particular, ultra-high yielding cereals. The region’s fertile soils, abundance of rainfall and sunlight provide locals with a long, slow growing period. Mr Watson’s wheat crop was sown in April last year, growing for 300 days before it was harvested in mid-February this year.

Selected for its yield potential, Mr Watson planted Kerrin wheat and used a high input approach to maximise his investment.

“By trying new cultivars, switching to liquid nitrogen and monitoring plant health more regularly, we were able to achieve another incredible result,” he said.

Internationally, Scotland is the next best player in the biggest yield stakes. Donald Ross from Rhynie in north east Scotland has won several awards for his crops including a silver medal for a yield of 14.8 tonnes per hectare in 2017. In some spots of the paddock, his yield monitor indicated the crop was yielding up to 18 tonnes per hectare.

The Australian average wheat yield is around 2.5 tonnes per hectare.

Research by Dr Allan Peake, an irrigated grains researcher from Toowoomba, suggests that Australia’s highest yielding wheat crop was grown by Michael and Fiona Chilvers from Evandale in Tasmania. In 2015, they sowed Einstein wheat which received 225 millimetres of irrigation and a total of 124 kilograms per hectare of in-crop nitrogen.

The resulting crop was verified at the weighbridge to have yielded 12.46 tonnes / hectare with 11.8 per cent moisture and 10.5 per cent protein.

Dr Peake’s research indicates that the Gilberton family at Millicent are the highest grossing dryland wheat growers, reaping a crop of 11.5 tonnes per hectare in 2016. The Gilbertons sowed LongReach Trojan wheat into broad bean stubble at the beginning of June with 165 kg / hectare of nitrogen applied in-crop. With a shallow water table, the crop may have accessed ground water in addition to rainfall during the growing season.

More Record Breaking Farming Feats

In 2018, UK TV show Top Gear broke the world record for the world’s fastest tractor (modified) after the Stig navigated the 500 bhp ‘Lamborghini-inspired’ vehicle around the Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground. The ‘Track-tor’ recorded a top speed of 147.929 kilometres per hour.

The most expensive pork carcase ever sold fetched JPY 1,394,690 (AUD $18,117) and the largest litter of pigs is 37, born to a sow in the United Kingdom. Canadian dairy cow Smurf holds the record for the most milk produced in a lifetime, yielding 215,891 kg of milk by the time she was 15. Big Bertha was the world’s oldest cow, reaching 48 years before she died in 1993 in Ireland.

The biggest wool clip from a single sheep was 41.1kg. Chris, a lost Merino ram, was found wandering around scrubland near Canberra and rescued by the RSPCA before being shorn.

 Sources: ABCGRDC, Farmers Weekly, Guinness World Records

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