By Connor Lynch
Ontario went into this year with good intentions for winter wheat. The province planned to plant over a million acres of the crop, an amount not seen since 2013.
Soggy weather in Western Ontario’s harvest season has curtailed that number, but not by nearly as much as independent agronomist and wheat enthusiast Peter Johnson had feared.
Ontario planted some 870,000 acres of winter wheat this fall. That’s down about 13 per cent from planting intentions, but Johnson thought things would be worse.
“Ontario growers must really know the value of wheat in the rotation,” he said, given the wet weather that’s blanketed Western Ontario.
Eastern Ontario had a smoother season than the west. Conditions were much drier and more conducive to wheat. But the region has never been a big planter of winter wheat and that’s not much changed this year, Johnson said.
Of course, there’s always room for regional variation. Semi-retired farmer Jan Roosendall, at Winchester, said that this year he’s seen more winter wheat getting planted than ever before. “A lot of wheat went in from guys I’d never seen doing it before.”
The province had two major wheat planting windows, one in mid-September and the other in mid-October. The early-planted wheat is looking phenomenal, he said. The later-planted wheat, not so much. Wheat hates having wet feet, so any growers with late-planted wheat in wet ground should dig up a seed or two, said Johnson. If the seed is mushy or the mesocotyl, the stem pushing up, is brown instead of a bright white, it’s probably doomed and frost-seeding isn’t a bad plan.