A New Zealand farmer has broken the world record for the highest wheat yield with a staggering 17.398 tonnes per ha crop with KWS Kerrin – he beat his own previous record set in 2017 of 16.971 tonnes.

Eric Watson, from Ashburton, beat the Guinness World Record for the highest wheat yield for the second consecutive time and according to Scotsman, Gordon Rennie – a former record holder himself – it was a great achievement.

"I spoke to Maxine Watson to congratulate her and her husband Eric on this marvellous achievement. They told me that the 'paddock' on which the record crop was grown is the same field as the 2017 record breaker. I walked this 2017 crop, so I know this field well," he told The SF.

The farm lies between the farming town of Ashburton and the Pacific Ocean taking advantage of the cool and moist sea mists which counter the worst of the scorching summer sun.

In 2018, the day time temperatures exceeded 30oC for days on end and at that temp all grass stop growing – and wheat is a form of grass. But 2019 up to harvest in February 2020 had the perfect growing season, with wheat yields in Canterbury averaging about 12 tonnes per ha – Eric's average wheat yield was between 12 and 13 t/ha, reported Mr Rennie.

According to Mr Rennie, here's the checklist to a record crop:

1, Fantastic soil type and the best field on the farm (Wakanui silt loam about 2m deep);

2, Excellent weather, hence average yields 12 tonnes (damp spring, mild January, irrigated late season by pivot 5mm/ha per day);

3, Eric's attention to detail leaves nothing to chance, hence:

* The crop had an even plant count across the 10 ha block chosen to attempt this record

* In early spring soils are tested to measure residual nitrogen (something I have advocated and I am still do not understand why this advice is hardly ever taken up)

* Crop never runs out of nitrogen

* Soil never runs out of moisture

4, Variety choice is crucial as it is only by genetics we can attain the highest yields.

* Eric grows small blocks of candidate varieties each year to allow him to decide which one is suited to his growing conditions

* Bayer NZ planned this record attempt with Eric

6, Eric and Bayer do not spray wheat to eradicate or control disease, the crop was protected by prophylactic disease control;

7, Aphids could have been a potential problem but early monitoring allowed action to be taken to prevent crop damage;

8, Harvest began when wheat was just under 16% moisture content and the average harvested moisture was just under 15%. No grain drying required.

9,Wheat followed a vegetable crop (radish), which left a high level of residual N;

10, Green leaf retention was outstanding – these act as solar panels converting sun's energy to biomass/yield.

"Next door to Eric and Maxine, Emit O'Sullivan grows fantastic herb crops of parsley etc and runs what I consider the most profitable dairy farm in NZ. He also also grows Maize next door to the Watsons irrigated with ozone rich water and although yield is never weighed, in my opinion could be world record yields," added Mr Rennie.

"Also in this area, another friend is the second biggest potato grower in the South Island and again he grows record crops of spuds, with blight sprays by helicopter using GPS tracking to ensure no areas are missed. Irrigation is essential, though," he said.