Phil Needham recommends no-tilling wheat on a narrow 5.5-7.5 inch row spacing. Wider row spacing can lead to yield loss up to 10-15 bushels per acre. Image: Phil Needham

9 Tips for Higher No-Till Wheat Yields

No-Till Legend Phil Needham outlines principles & practices needed to increase wheat yields

Higher no-till wheat yield returns are possible with proper management. No-Till Legend Phil Needham, founder and owner of Needham Ag Technologies in Calhoun, Ky., identifies 9 wheat yield and profit management practices to take your no-till wheat crop to the next level

Record Yields 

Tim Lamyman, who farms near Alford in Lincolnshire, England (just 3-4 miles from where Needham grew up). is the current world record wheat yield holder, harvesting (267 bushels per acre on a field, verified by Guinness in 2022). Needham spent time with Lamyman during the summer of 2023, learning about how he created such high yields. 

“Tim is extremely detail orientated," Needham says. "He plants on 5-inch row spacing with a Vaderstad drill and makes multiple passes across the fields with nutrients and fungicides."

After observing Lamyman's practices and Needham's decades of experience working with no-tillers growing wheat, Needham has concluded that there are three basic components of yield. The first component is the number of heads per square yard or meter. 

The second is the number of grains per head. Lamyman averaged about 70 grains per head, while U.S. no-tillers growing wheat are in the 30-50 grains per head range. The final component is the grain test weight. 

“When you can manipulate the number of heads within the ideal range and then generate lots of grain per head, then you’ve got a good grain density or test weight," Needham says. "That’s where the high yields are.

New Profit Opportunities with No-Tilled Wheat

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Carlos Peterson

Carlos is an editorial intern with Lessiter Media, working with the Ag side of the company. He's worked in various settings as a reporter including healthcare, sports and general assignment. He is a Communication and Journalism graduate from the University of Kansas.

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