Ronnie Russell, who farms historic Corbin Hall Farm in Middlesex County, Va., was the overall winner in the 2012 Virginia Wheat Yield Contest.

He grew 111.9 bushels of Pioneer 26R20 wheat to win the top award.

Second place in this year’s contest was won by Evan Perry, who also farms on Corbin Hill Farm. Perry’s competition wheat field averaged 111.1 bushels per acre. He planted USG 3555 wheat.

Third place in this year’s contest went to Bill Nelson, Colonial Acres Farm in Henrico County, near Richmond. Nelson produced 110.9 bushels per acre of Shirley wheat.

Fourth place went to John Copeland, Jr., who grew 105.9 bushels per acre of Shirley variety wheat on North Bend Farm in Charles City, Va..

Perhaps the most surprising entry in the annual wheat and barley yield contest was this year’s barley yield winner. Richard Sanford, who farms in Westmoreland County produced a whopping 154.9 bushels per acre of the Thoroughbred variety.

Ben Rowe, communications director for the Virginia Grain Producers Association notes that this year’s winners were spread across the Virginia Commonwealth. “Once again our growers proved they can produce outstanding grain yields,” Rowe says.

The winners of the annual event will be presented cash awards and plaques at the Virginia Grain Growers Association annual meeting in February.

Overall grain yields were down slightly from 2011 totals, but as the high yields produced by winning entries attest, there were pockets of grain across the state that produced good yields and high quality grain.

According to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Virginia’s wheat producers averaged about 65 bushels per acre in 2012.

When final tallies are completed, wheat production in Virginia is expected to total about 17.6 million bushels, down one percent from last year’s total wheat crop of 17.8 million bushels.

Producers harvested 270,000 acres of wheat, 20,000 acres more than in 2011.

Barley yields in Virginia are averaged about 85 bushels per acre, down slightly from last year. Loss of the barley powered ethanol plant in Hopewell, Va., put a big dent in barley production this year.

Virginia is expected to produce about 3.75 million bushels, down 39 percent from 2011. Harvested acreage totaled about 45,000 acres, down 25,000 acres from last year.

rroberson@farmpress.com