By the OMAFRA Field Crop Team
Fall 2017 Planting
Approximately 906,000 acres of winter wheat was seeded, which is slightly down from the previous year’s 910,000 acres. The proportion of hard red wheat (HRW) acres was consistent with the previous year’s crop at 7%. Soft white acreage dropped from 7% to 5% and the proportion of soft red wheat increased from 86% of the Ontario crop to 88%. Once again, the fall conditions provided an opportunity for wheat to become well established prior to winter.
2018 Growing Season
Throughout the months of January and February, there were notable freeze-thaw cycles causing concern about winter survival. Fortunately, winter wheat survival was good in many parts of the province. However, fields that were planted late or shallow or fields on heavy clay soils such as those in Lambton and Niagara counties did have some heaving and winter survival issues. Reports of winter heaving also came from Bruce and Grey counties along with eastern Ontario. A number of those fields were replanted to corn or soybeans as a result. Overall, there were less than 500 damage reports primarily in Essex, Chatham-Kent, Perth, Niagara, and Bruce counties, which is on par with previous years.
Once again, fields that received a fall herbicide application were much cleaner than those that did not. Fields that did not receive a herbicide the previous fall were found to have flowering chickweed, large Canada fleabane rosettes as well as speedwell. It is estimated that less than 25% of winter wheat acres in the province receive a fall herbicide application. Growers are encouraged to consider a fall herbicide application as it provides clean fields in the spring and allows for proper fungicide timing when necessary.
As conditions began to dry up in many parts of the province at the end of May and well into June, wheat began to burn up due to the lack of moisture. The dry weather was also accompanied with high temperatures which caused the winter wheat to progress through pollination much quicker than usual. This shortened the optimal timing window for fusarium fungicide applications (T3 timing). As a result, many growers chose not to apply a T3 fungicide, particularly in Essex, Kent, Elgin and Middlesex counties. The high temperatures also resulted in fields exhibiting head snag. The impact on yield, however, was minimal.
A significant portion of spring cereals was planted by the end of April and planting was wrapped up by mid-May. Overall, spring cereals acres were down in 2018 likely due to challenging spring planting conditions and a significant amount of winter wheat acres in the ground. Despite the later planting dates for some the spring cereals, crops were off to a good start with adequate moisture. However, as the season progressed spring cereals began to exhibit signs of water and heat stress due to the lack of moisture and high temperatures during the months of June and July. Like winter wheat, diseases in spring cereals were minimal until August when crown rust was evident in many cover crop fields of oats.
Early in the spring, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the United States established a maximum residue limit (MRL) on Manipulator, a plant growth regulator. As a result, many elevators no longer require growers to make a declaration of its use. However, growers should continue to work closely with their elevators to ensure there are no issues with using the product on their crop going forward.
Harvest was wrapped up for most of the province by the second week of August. Despite the relatively dry and hot weather during pollination through to the grain fill period and some challenges with a wet harvest, winter wheat yields exceeded expectations for many.
The average winter wheat yield for soft red wheat was 85 bu/ac, hard red was 79 bu/ac and soft white wheat was 81 bu/ac. Areas that did not receive timely rainfalls such as Bruce, Grey and parts of Essex counties reported yields as low as 30 bu/ac.
Spring cereals did not fare as well as winter wheat. A delay in planting, hot and dry weather from planting through to pollination, as well CLB pressure had a significant impact on spring cereal yields this year. Spring wheat yielded 90% of the average at 50 bu/ac, mixed grain was 57 bu/ac, oats yielded 86% of the average at 74 bu/ac and barley yielded 87% of the average at 55 bu/ac.
The quality of the winter wheat crop was excellent with 92% of the crop grading a grade 2 or better. Kernel size was small, but test weights remained high.
Fall 2018 Planting
The cool, wet spring resulted in delayed soybean planting for many producers. This ultimately had an impact on winter wheat planting this fall as soybean harvest was also delayed. Growers who opted for early maturing soybeans were able to get their soybean crop off and plant their winter wheat in ideal conditions at the end of September.
Several acres were also planted after edible beans. Wet conditions right through to the end of October resulted in a significant amount of winter wheat being planted from mid to late October. Despite the challenges with a late planting approximately 925,000 acres of winter wheat have been seeded. The proportion of hard red wheat acres is consistent with the previous year’s crop at 7%. Soft white wheat acreage dropped from 5% to 4% and the proportion of soft red wheat acres increased slightly from 88% last year to 89% this year.
Due to the later planting and cool, wet fall conditions, a significant amount of winter wheat has not yet emerged. Vernalization should not be a concern in those fields as adequate soil moisture would have allowed for the seed to absorb the necessary amount of water needed to trigger germination and vernalization. However, it will be important for growers to walk these fields early in the spring to monitor for growth. It will also be important for these fields to have timely nitrogen applications next spring to promote tillering.
The full report is available on the Field Crop News website.