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Optimum date to seed winter wheat across Ontario map

OMAFRA Field Crop Report – September 14, 2017

Best management practices for late planted winter wheat

Source: OMAFRA Field Crop Team

With many soybean fields across the countryside just starting to change colour, harvest is not likely to begin anytime soon.  A cool, wet spring delayed soybean planting in much of the province and cooler temperatures in August and September have pushed harvest back this fall compared to the last two years.  As a result, growers are wondering whether or not they will be able to get winter wheat planted at an optimum time.

With winter wheat having huge benefits to a cropping system (an additional 10 bu/ac to the following corn crop and an additional 5 bu/ac to the following soybean crop) growers are encouraged to keep winter wheat in the rotation this fall if possible.  Delayed planting can result in lower yields so being diligent this fall with our best management practices for establishing the winter wheat crop will be very important to reduce the risk of significant yield loss. Read more

Winter wheat field

Soil fertility benefits of wheat in rotation

Before long, the 2018 winter wheat crop will be seeded across the province (Figure 1). Long-term research at the University of Guelph’s Ridgetown campus shows that winter wheat in rotation provides an additional 10 bushels per acre to corn and 5 bushels to soybeans. At current crop prices, that means an extra 107 dollars per acre over a rotation.

Winter wheat field

Figure 1: Winter wheat field in Perth County, April 2017.

What other benefits does wheat provide? And how might having wheat in rotation be positive from a soil fertility perspective? Read more

Wheat kernels photo 1

Optimizing winter wheat quality at harvest


When we think about getting the highest yields and the best quality out of our winter wheat crop we tend to think about management practices such as timely planting, variety selection, nutrient management (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and sulphur), as well as timely fungicide and herbicide applications. However, one management practice that can often be overlooked or forgotten about in terms of managing wheat quality is a timely harvest. As winter wheat harvest quickly approaches don’t forget to plan ahead to ensure you maintain the highest quality wheat possible by reducing your pre-harvest sprouting and fusarium risk. Read more

flood damage in corn and wet fields

Wet fields create big dilemma for farmers

After a deluge of rain last week, London-area farmers are anxious to get their corn planted.

But an agronomist is advising them to wait until their fields have dried out.

“Farmers will have to have some patience this week,” said Peter Johnson, an agronomist with Real Agriculture.

Earlier planting increases chances of a good harvest but planting on soil that is too wet risks soil compaction that can stifle root growth, he said.

Johnson said there was a wide variation of rainfall across the region last week ranging from a low of about 30 mm around Bayfield to more than 100 mm in some areas. Read more

wheat seedlings

Winter wheat condition holds for second week

The condition of the U.S. winter wheat crop held steady for the second straight week this past week.

Monday’s USDA crop progress report put the condition of the nationwide crop at 54% good to excellent as of Sunday, unchanged from a week earlier and 7 points behind last year. Crops in Kansas and Oklahoma were battered by severe weather over the weekend – including heavy snow in parts of the Read more

wheat seedlings

Can winter wheat get too big?

Source: Wheat School on RealAgriculture.com.


Ontario’s winter wheat crop is growing like gangbusters thanks to unseasonably warm fall temperatures. But could it grow too much?

“No way,” says agronomist Peter Johnson in Real Agriculture’s latest Wheat School episode. “The only thing we have to worry about is if it’s still growing on Christmas Eve, like last year.” In that case growers may have to adjust spring nitrogen rates.

The 2016 wheat crop benefitted greatly from early planting to produce a record 96.7 bushels per acre. Johnson has encouraged growers to plant early again this spring, but many have asked whether plants could get too big as good growing conditions persist.

In this episode, Johnson looks at a fast growing wheat field and concludes that the plants can still add more tillers. He says last year many plants had 10 to 12 tillers and he’s seen nowhere near that number in fields he’s scouted this fall.

“Well advanced wheat in the fall makes you money next spring,” says Johnson. “This is a an awesome crop.”

Managing Fusarium Head Blight at harvest

Fursarium Spores WheatThe less infected kernels that go into storage the better, and the greater of a chance a grower will have for not getting docked to a lower grade of wheat.

Combine tips and notes

  • Higher fan speeds are needed to blow infected kernels out the back. Ridgetown College has done studies on fan speeds, and there is a tenfold decrease in the amount of Fusarium damaged kernels in a sample when the fan speed is at maximum blast. But with that comes challenges of losing good healthy kernels.
  • Research from Ohio State showed combine fan speeds between 1375 and 1475 RPM and the shutter opening at 3.5 inches received the lowest discounts at elevators from FHB damaged wheat kernels and DON levels in the harvested grain.
  • Reduce combine speed. Having the combine traveling at a slower speed, will allow better separation between the good and bad kernels.
  • In fields which are severely affected by leaf diseases, the lower test weight of the grain may make it more difficult to separate normal kernels from Fusarium damaged kernels.

Read more

Snow mould in winter cereals


Holly Loucas, Agronomist, DOW Agroscience

What is snow mould?

Snow moulds are cold-loving fungi that can attack many economic plants under a cover of snow.

Pathogen biology

WinterMouldChartThe important species of snow moulds that infect winter wheat are Microdochium nivale and Typhla spp.

Gray snow mould (Typhula spp) is the less damaging form of snow mould. It is able to survive throughout hot summer months as sclerotia under the ground or in plant debris.

Pink snow mould (Microdochium nivale) is usually more severe than gray snow mould. It can survive the summer months in decayed plant debris as spores or mycelium. Read more

Assessing winter survival in wheat

By Holly Loucas, Agronomist, DOW Agrosciences

Factors affecting winter survival in wheat

The ability of winter wheat plants to survive winter often depends on each plant’s ability to tolerate low temperatures. Winter wheat plants go through a process called ‘cold acclimation’ in the fall during which each plant acquires the ability to withstand the cold temperatures experienced during the winter. This process is affected by planting date, fertility, seeding depth, and most importantly, the weather. Read more