While Saskatchewan and Alberta are just now enjoying the first few weeks of harvest, Manitoba farmers are nearly done with cereals and canola and have a few weeks to wait before soybeans and corn are ready. The early harvest has many farmers excited to get winter wheat back in rotation, and more than a few we spoke with in Manitoba were already rolling out the seeders. The weather is co-operating, farmers have time and available canola stubble and there is likely to be a nasty drought-induced supply hangover next summer that should support winter wheat prices.
Before seeding winter wheat, however, it’s important to do a thorough burn-off. Weed removal is just as important ahead of fall seeded crops, but, more importantly, winter wheat is a major host of the wheat curl mite. The mite, which can only survive 10 days without green leaf tissue, carries the wheat streak mosaic virus, a nasty disease that can attack spring and winter wheat, barley, corn and some grasses. The mite needs immature (green) leaf material to live on ahead of the winter wheat crop, thus the term the “green bridge.” A burn-off at least 14 days ahead of seeding eliminates the bridging material and decreases the risk of the mite surviving and infecting the winter wheat crop.