REXBURG — A potato farmer who grows wheat as part of his crop rotation has won national honors for wheat production for the second year in a row.

Terry Wilcox, of Keith Wilcox and Sons, a potato producer and shipper, took second place Dec. 6 in the 2017 National Wheat Foundation’s National Wheat Yield Contest.

The contest recognizes the overall high-yield winner in two competition categories: winter wheat and spring wheat, and two subcategories: dryland and irrigated. He is credited with producing 143.91 bushels per acre of irrigated spring wheat.

“We actually did better the year previous,” Wilcox said. “We got 179.78 bushels per acre in 2016 and this year we got 35 bushels per acre less and still finished in the same spot.”

Buhl wheat grower Rick Pearson also took honors.

The contest is gauged upon the percentage a farmer produces above the county average.

“The national winner actually had less bushels per acres than we did with 129 bushels per acre, but their percentage above their county average was higher.”

The field that rated in the competition is on the Rexburg bench, east and south of Rexburg.

“They had a deep well on this ground when we bought it in the 1960s,” he said. “We started out with hand lines on it, but now it’s pivot irrigation.”

He has used WestBred seed for the past eight or nine years.

“We go with what we think will work for us,” he said.

Spring wheat works better than fall wheat for Wilcox due to erosion in the spring on the bench.

“Flat fields do better for fall wheat,” he said.

He raises hard white and hard red varieties of wheat that are locally milled and are often used for bread flour.

Before he plants, soil tests help determine his plant food needs.

“We put down sulfur, potash, nitrogen and whatever else it says we need,” Wilcox said. “We have a high soil pH of about 7 to 8 so the sulfur helps loosen things up and releases the micronutrients we need. We put on fertilizer with the seed and run some nitrogen with water.”

Wheat is part of his crop rotation of two years grain and one year potatoes.

“The first year after spuds, we raise wheat and the second year it’s either wheat or barley,” he said.

Floyd Wilcox and his three sons, Keith, Leroy, and David, started Floyd Wilcox & Sons in a 7,000 square foot building in Thornton in 1948. The next generation of Wilcox brothers — Terry, Lynn and Ron — started Wilcox Fresh in a 98,000-square-foot facility in Rexburg and ships throughout North America. The family farm has grown from 200 acres to 11,000 acres.

Other Idaho winners are Wilcox’s nephew Dallin Wilcox with 142.14 bushels per acre, Doug Stout of Genesee and Brad Parks of Jefferson County with Mud Lake Farms.

To enter, you must be a member in good standing of a recognized state wheat grower association, pay an entry fee of $100 and provide proof of production. A total of 287 growers from 28 states competed.

Winners and a guest receive a trip to the 2018 Commodity Classic in Anaheim, Calif., Feb. 27 to March 1. Sponsors for the 2017 National Yield Contest are BASF, Croplan/Winfield, Indigo Ag, John Deere, McGregor, Monsanto and Syngenta.

“I would like to see more people enter this contest,” Wilcox said.

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