Wheat School: Saving Ontario's 2019 wheat crop

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There’s some tough-looking winter wheat across Ontario and many producers are wondering whether they can save their crops.

In some instances, growers have forward-contracted wheat for delivery at $7 a bushel. That’s difficult to walk away from, says RealAgriculture agronomist Peter Johnson. “We will lose some acres on the heavy clays, but where we can, we have to save the crop.”

In this episode of RealAgriculture’s Wheat School, Johnson offers tips on how to assess fields and determine a management plan. He says the first thing to do is dig up plants and look for white roots, which indicate that plants are actively growing. If they’re alive, the crop will survive and make a crop.

In the video below, Johnson notes September-planted fields are greening up and have a more-than-adequate plant stand. Many of these fields, however, are littered with large ‘holes’ where seeds failed to produce a plant and have died. “In these holes, you have to do something or they’ll just be big weed patches,” he adds. One plan of action here is to plant a cereal — barley, oats or spring wheat. (Story continues after the video.)

Johnson says late-planted wheat may need as much as 120 pounds of nitrogen, but growers need to be mindful of what crop they are planting in those holes. That’s too much nitrogen for oats, for example, he notes.

The bottom line is many growers will have to be active managers if they want to make something of their 2019 winter wheat. “A mediocre or late-planted crop will go downhill if you don’t manage it. It’s that simple.”

Click here for more Wheat School episodes.

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