Wheat School: Should you worry about head snag?

Hot days and warm nights have produced lots of head snag in Ontario winter wheat fields.

RealAgriculture agronomist Peter Johnson explains that a string of 30-degree days and 20-degree nights earlierthis spring promoted rapid growth in wheat fields just as the wheat crop was heading out.

Those are perfect conditions for head snag. “Some of the heads come out through the side of the boot with a big bend in the rachis (the stem inside the head). With the big heat the head comes up faster than the collar could release … so it bounces out the side,” says Johnson.

In this episode of the RealAgriculture Wheat School, Johnson says growers shouldn’t worry too much about the impact head snag has on yield. “If the rachis does not break there is no yield loss to speak of… and even if the rachis is broken, it’s not all bad. The top of the head won’t set any seed and it won’t fill, but most of the time when we lose that part of the head we’ll get bigger kernels in the lower part of the head.”

Johnson notes that many growers he speaks with ask if the condition is related to fungicide/herbicide applications, but that’s rarely the case. “It might once in a while, but it’s pretty small. It’s genetics, it’s weather, it’s one of the weird things about wheat.

“At the end of the day it’s simply not a very big deal,” adds Johnson. “Be sure to put your T3 fungicide on and grow awesome wheat.”

Click here for more Wheat School episodes.


Bernard Tobin

Bernard Tobin is Real Agriculture's Ontario Field Editor. AgBern was raised on a dairy farm near St. John's, Newfoundland. For the past two decades, he has specialized in agricultural communications. A Ryerson University journalism grad, he kicked off his career with a seven-year stint as Managing Editor and Field Editor for Farm and Country magazine. He has received six Canadian Farm Writers' Federation awards for journalism excellence. He's also worked for two of Canada's leading agricultural communications firms, providing public relations, branding and strategic marketing. Bern also works for Guelph-based Synthesis Agri-Food Network and talks the Real Dirt on Farming.


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