Wheat School: What to do with wimpy winter wheat

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Ontario is dotted with fields of “wimpy wheat.”

That’s what RealAgriculture agronomist, Peter Johnson is calling late-emerging, thin, spindly winter wheat that lacks vigour and did not tiller.

In this episode of RealAgriculture Wheat School, Johnson explains these plants are simply suffering from cold injury after a rugged Ontario fall and an equally tumultuous spring growing season. The prognosis for these fields is not good. Without tillers, it’s unlikely that plants will produce the 21 stems per foot of row required for sufficient yield.

Better weather could improve the fortunes of these crops, but there’s very little to be done, says Johnson.

Plants can die from cold injury when subjected to extreme temperature or ice. Most of the plants in the field Johnson visits in this video, took five months to emerge and the crop had yet to canopy despite reaching second node.

“We can still see dirt between the rows — that means the yield is in big trouble,” says Johnson. Adding that he feels growers need to be realistic about yield as well as straw production. Straw prices have spiked this year, but it’s unlikely wimpy wheat will produce enough straw to make a significant contribution to the bottom line.

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