Winter wheat prize winner is announced

Pictured in the winning field of Winter Wheat are David McKeeman (Son), David McKeeman & Ian Gregg UFU Group Manager.
Pictured in the winning field of Winter Wheat are David McKeeman (Son), David McKeeman & Ian Gregg UFU Group Manager.

The Ulster Farmers’ Union along with competition sponsors Origin NI and BASF have crowned David McKeeman and son of the UFU’s North Antrim Group in first place in the Winter Wheat category this year.

Running very close in second place was Mark and Paul Russell of the UFU South West Down Group, and coming in a respectable third place was Ian and Philip Loughrin of the UFU South Tyrone Group.

The judges of the Winter Wheat category this year were Robin Bolton (DAERA), William May (Burkes Agri Supplies) and Greer Kelso.

Commenting on winning the competition David McKeeman (senior) said: “I am delighted to have won the winter wheat category of the UFU cereal competition this year. Last year this field was planted with potatoes and I decided to make a change this year and plant a crop of winter wheat. The growing season got off to a slow start as it was hindered by wet weather conditions. Despite this thanks to a robust spray programme and careful attention to detail the crop has proved healthy.” David added that weather permitting he hopes to harvest the crop within the next few weeks.

Speaking on behalf of the competition judges, Robin Bolton said: “The competition was once again very tight with a high standard of entries.  Fusarium appeared to be a problem, across the province and will have a negative effect on yields, but the winning field combined a high level of disease control with excellent yield potential and uniformity.  The judges would like to congratulate all the entrants and wish them every success with harvesting these very good crops and also thank the UFU for once again making the competition possible.”

On behalf of the competition sponsors Origin NI and BASF, Mervyn Owens said: “We are pleased to have been able to come together once again in support of the annual UFU cereal competition. The standard of crop presented this year was a credit to growers right across Northern Ireland, especially the winning entries which reflect the very best of the high quality crops produced locally.”

UFU deputy president Victor Chestnutt added: “The standard of Winter Wheat crops grown across Northern Ireland, in particular the entries to our prestigious competition is a testament to the expertise we have within the arable industry. I would like to thank our sponsors Origin NI and BASF who continue to enthusiastically support and promote our cereal competitions, the competition judges, our Group Managers who co-ordinate the local competitions, and the many UFU members who entered this year’s Winter Wheat competition.”

The awards for the Winter Barley, Oats, Winter Wheat and Spring Barley cereal competition categories will be officially presented at the 2016 UFU and Sponsors Cereals Competition Awards and Lunch planned for later this year.