The recent rainfall over much of the province was welcomed and appreciated by many. However, the heavy rain and winds proved to be a tipping point for some winter wheat with lodging occurring in all or parts of fields. While some wheat has managed to stand back up, the wheat remains flat where the lodging is severe (Figure 1). For those who may have never experience lodged wheat here are a few things to keep in mind as harvest begins in the most southern part of the province.
Fusarium head blight (FHB) has remained at relatively low levels in field to date but can be a concern in lodged crops. Fields that are lodged or did not receive a T3 fungicide should be scouted leading up to harvest to identify if any disease is present and at what levels. Diseased spikelets will appear to have ripened prematurely (bleached) in contrast to healthy heads and during warm, humid weather, the fungus produces a salmon-orange-to-pink ring of spores at the base of the spikelet or in the crease of the kernel (Figure 2). Infected kernels are also usually shrunken, wrinkled and light in weight. They can range in colour from light brown to pink to greyish-white. If you identify fields with FHB, they should be harvested first to help stop the continued spread of infection. Scout for other head diseases such as “sooty” molds, glume blotch and black point which may increase in lodged wheat as well.
Combine adjustments are another effective and easy way of optimizing the harvest of a lodged or FHB infected wheat crop. By increasing the fan speed and reducing driving speed, the level of fusarium-damaged kernels in a sample can be lowered. Since many FHB infected kernels are small, shrunken and lighter than normal kernels, they are blown out of the back of the combine. Even in extreme circumstances (such as those in 1996) where maximum windblast was used, the reduction of fusarium-damaged kernels in the grain outweighed the loss of good kernels that were also blown out the back.
Adjusting your combine for a lodged wheat crop is also important. On those combines that are equipped with floating/flexible cutter bars, leave the knife tilted down and run the header in the float position similar to harvesting a soybean crop. While this can be effective, ensure you are being cautious not to pick up any rocks. Grain lifters are a fairly inexpensive and effective way to maximize yields in a lodged crop as well. Given most reels are on the optimum setting for soybeans, they should be adjusted. Set the reel forward and adjust the tine angle to be more aggressive, allowing the reel to physically lift the crop up off the ground and above the knife. Check the operator’s manual for suggested settings and work from there.
Harvesting in one direction against the lodged grain can assist with lifting the crop off the ground more effectively. Harvesting a lodged crop is frustrating and slow, but it’s worth taking the time to be effective in harvest.
With combines set to maximize harvest potential, more volunteer grain is likely to go out the back of the combine which may contribute to greater volunteer wheat. Take account of this when planning post-harvest field management.
Drying and storage can be easily looked over during a busy harvest season. Ensure that any wheat going into storage is dried down to at least 14% moisture or below. If wheat is not properly dried down, any fusarium in the grain will continue to grow resulting in further downgrading. Check any stored grain frequently to ensure the grain remains in good condition. For more details on these harvest recommendations check out pages 136 – 140 of Publication 811: Agronomy Guide for Field Crops.
|Location||Year||Weekly June 21-27||Accumulated|
|Highest Temp (°C)||Lowest Temp (°C)||Rain (mm)||Rain (mm) April 1st||GDD 0C April 1st||GDD 5C April 1st||CHU May 1st|
|Report compiled by OMAFRA using Environment Canada data. Data quality is verified but accuracy is not guaranteed. Report supplied for general information purposes only. An expanded report is available at www.fieldcropnews.com.|