08/06/09 — Hooks wins county wheat crop contest

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Hooks wins county wheat crop contest

By Laura Collins
Published in News on August 6, 2009 1:49 PM

Northern Wayne farmer Steve Hooks was tired of finishing third place.

For the past few years, Hooks has taken third in the Wayne County Wheat Yield Contest, but this year Hooks captured first place with 98.15 bushels per acre.

He didn't shake third place for long, though.

"I finally got out of third place in the county, which I was in for years, but then third place came in again at the state level," he said.

Kevin Johnson, extension agent with the state Cooperative Extension Service, said the county average is about 50 bushels of wheat per acre.

"The contest is a lot of fun for farmers and they get bragging rights for who has the highest yields," he said. "If you're averaging 98 bushels per acre, that's a lot of wheat. That's a lot of wheat."

To enter the contest, farmers must have a minimum of three acres of wheat. Johnson then harvests the wheat and weighs it. One bushel of wheat is about 60 pounds. Johnson said there are several things that go into having high yields.

"You basically need to plant a real good variety (of wheat), you need to plant on good soil and on good land," Johnson said. "You need to manage it and keep diseases and bugs out of it. You have to be very timely and good managers."

Johnson also said the land in Wayne County is good for wheat, but this year's numbers were lower than previous years.

"This year the overall wheat yields were down. The county average was down and the state yield was down. It was probably off by 15 percent," he said.

Hooks said weather is the main component when it comes to growing wheat, but added that a good variety of selection and applying fungicides also help.

At the state level, Michael Cobb, of Greene County, took first place with 106.5 bushels per acre and Larry Cobb placed second with 101.4 bushels.

In Wayne County Harrell Overman placed second with 93.53 bushels and Daw Farms placed third with 93.16.