2021 Winter Wheat Planting Conditions
Planting conditions varied across the province. Areas with ideal conditions and a timely harvest of edible beans, canola, and oats were able to seed winter wheat within the optimum date range. Other areas experienced above average rainfall in October that resulted in pooling and heavy tile-run wheat. Most planting was concluded by mid-October, but some growers pushed their planting into early November due to wet conditions. Earlier-planted wheat emerged well in the fall and produced a good number of tillers. These fields had an opportunity to establish a deep root system, increasing the likelihood of winter survival.
The total winter wheat seeded acres was down in 2021. According to Stats Canada, approximately 850,000 acres of winter wheat was seeded, down from 1,100,000 acres in 2020. Of the of total 2021 acres, hard red winter wheat acres were up 1% (from 6% to 7%), soft white winter wheat acreage was down 1% (from 3% to 2%, and soft red winter wheat acres remained the same (91% of total acres).
Winter Survival and Stand Assessments
Winter wheat survival exceeded expectations in the spring 2022, with few reports of winterkill across the province. Many who planted late and those with high amounts of precipitation in the fall were pleasantly surprised with survival.
When making assessments for winter survival, fields should be walked after a week or two of warm weather in the spring when growth has resumed. Prioritize fields that were planted late or shallow with frost heave issues, planted with a variety that has poor winter survival, or fields that had pooling and ice during the winter months. Conduct several stand counts and plant health assessments throughout the entire field to get a broader perspective of the severity of damage without focusing only on bad spots. When evaluating wheat stands, count the number of plants per meter or per foot of row (see Table 1 below).
Table 1. Determining yield potential for various plant stand counts.
|# Of Plants||# Of Plants||Planting Date||Planting Date|
|Oct 5||Oct 15|
|Per m of row||Per ft of row||% Yield Potential||Yield (bu/ac)||Yield (bu/ac)|
223 plants/m (7 plants/ft) of row, healthy and evenly distributed plants.
Cereal rye forage and cover crops also came out of winter in good condition. Winter barley did not survive the winter well and was widely terminated as a result.
2022 Growing Season Conditions
Conditions in the spring were conducive to powdery mildew development with some areas experiencing high pressure in susceptible winter wheat varieties. Susceptibility ratings for specific varieties can be found on the head-to-head section of the Ontario Cereal Crops Committee website. There were also some reports of Septoria on susceptible varieties in Bruce, Grey, and Wellington counties.
Spring cereal planting began at the end of April in some regions and continued into May. The seeded area of barley was up in 2022, increasing by 23% according to Stats Canada. Oat acres increased by approximately 19%, while spring wheat decreased by about 9%. Emergence was good with frost seeded spring cereals well ahead of those planted in May.
At the end of April, ground conditions supported the application of fertilizer in some regions and approximately 50-75% of fields received an application of nitrogen by the beginning of May. When planning your N management strategy, there are several factors to consider for maximum returns including crop development stage, variety, and field-specific characteristics. More information on nitrogen application can be found on the Field Crop News website here: Should I split apply nitrogen in winter wheat? When spring temperatures increased and stabilized in mid-May, attention turned to herbicide and plant growth regulator (PGR) application. While PGRs have a relatively wide window of application, the optimum range for application is between GS30 and GS32. This is the beginning of stem elongation when the crop switches from vegetative to reproductive growth. During this stage, plants will begin to stand more upright compared to earlier stages as seen in Figure 1 below.
Long stretches of warm weather in May resulted in winter wheat moving through growth stages quickly. As a result, many missed the optimal window for PGR application. Late PGR applications will still be effective. Applying beyond the optimal window will result in a shortening of the internodes further up the stem as opposed to shortening the internodes towards the bottom of the stem. In July, some parts of Ontario experienced a series of significant thunderstorms that resulted in spring wheat lodging in near Kemptville and Wellington County.
Insect and Diseases
Generally, there was low insect and disease pressure in 2022. Cereal leaf beetle (CLB) feeding was reported in some regions but in most cases, populations remained below threshold. Similarly, aphids were spotted in winter wheat fields but well below threshold and were kept in check by the high presence of beneficial insects including ladybug and lacewing larvae. CLB control is warranted if an average of 3 larvae per tiller are found before the boot stage. One CLB adult or larvae per stem warrants control after boot but prior to heading. If significant feeding is taking place on the flag leaf in the early heading stages, control may become necessary. Natural enemies are highly effective at controlling this pest. For the safety of these natural enemies, chemical control is not recommended unless pest population exceeds the action threshold. For aphids, prior to the heading stage, the threshold is 12 to 15 cereal aphids per stem and up to 50 aphids per head after heading.
In spring cereals, some fields had aphid populations high enough that an application of an insecticide was necessary. This was particularly true for oats in Grey and Wellington County as well as New Liskeard. CLB pressure was also high in these areas on spring barley. Some wheat midges were observed on the heads of spring cereals but did not impact yield. Flowering marks the beginning of T3 fungicide applications and protection against Fusarium head blight (FHB). Warm temperatures in July continued to advance crop development at a quick pace. The ideal timing for fungicide application is at the beginning of pollination when anthers are visible on the middle of the head. This timing is critical because the peak number of florets on the head are open and susceptible to infection.
2022 Cereals Harvest
Leading up to harvest, conditions were dry in many regions of the province. Despite these tough conditions, cool nights in June and July extended the grain fill period and contributed to high kernel weights that translated to high yields. In eastern Ontario, conditions were optimal and, in some cases, too wet. Harvest began in the first week of Julyin some of the earliest planted wheat and wrapped up by late August in other parts of the province. Quality was also good with little to no reports of fusarium head blight (FHB) and Deoxynivalenol (DON). Falling numbers were good and there was little to no sprouting.
Spring cereal harvest wrapped up in September with some oat fields in Grey and Wellington County still being harvested in the first week of October.
Winter wheat yields were phenomenal in 2022 with many breaking their own on-farm records previously set in 2021. The following table summarizes the Agricorp reported yields in 2022 and 2021 for each of the winter wheat classes as well as the previous 5-year yield average.
Table 2. 2022 and 2021 Agricorp reported winter wheat yields and the previous 5-year average.
|Class||2022 Yield (bu/ac)||2021 Yield (bu/ac)||Previous 5-Yr Avg (2017-21) (bu/ac)|
The table below summarizes the Stats Canada spring cereal yields for spring barley, oats, and spring wheat.
Table 3. 2022 and 2021 Stats Canada reported spring cereal yields and the previous 5-year average.
|Crop||2022 Yield (bu/ac)||2021 Yield (bu/ac)||Previous 5-Yr Avg (2017-21) (bu/ac)|
Fall 2022 Winter Wheat Planting Conditions
By mid-September winter wheat planting started in some areas of the province. In other regions, late maturing soybeans delayed planting for several growers and pushed their planting date past the optimal window. If seeding outside of the optimum planting date range (map here on FieldCropNews.com), increase the rate by 200,000 seeds/acre for each week beyond your optimal date to a max of 2.2 million seeds/acre. Fields with variable emergence or that have not yet emerged should be walked early in the spring to monitor growth. It will also be important for these fields to have timely nitrogen applications next spring to promote tillering.