Ontario growers on to Plan C with rough-looking winter wheat

This very wet, cool Ontario spring is still presenting challenges with the winter wheat crop. Once winter finally moved out, concerns over the survival of much of the wheat crop were confirmed, and the challenges did not end there.

According to RealAg agronomist Peter Johnson, who appeared on RealAg Radio on Monday,  “On some of the un-tiled lighter soil where people originally thought they would keep their winter wheat the weather has not helped their decision. Ontario has had such cloudy conditions and it has been so wet that the wheat never popped.”

As you walk the wheat on 7.5 inch rows, he says,  as of June 1st you can still see dirt between the rows. “The wheat has 40 bushel potential on 180 bushel corn ground and the grower says he is sticking with the wheat,” Johnson says.

On heavy clay soils where people thought they would rip out the wheat, it’s so wet that the best thing they can do is keep the wheat that they have, Johnson says. “If you are going to keep it, you better get some nitrogen and sulphur on it — feed it as much as you need to based on the yield potential.”

In farming, sometimes your first loss is your best loss which is what helps growers justify keeping a 40-bushel wheat crop in the field.

It’s not just about agronomics, of course. On the economics side, there are marketing reasons to stick with your wheat with the shortage of feed and straw building for this fall.

Johnson walked wheat fields on the weekend that were planted in October and “none of it was over the top of my boot in flag leaf. It will be 10 days to two weeks before that crop heads out based on colder, cloudy wet weather.”

Most growers in Ontario will agree that at some point this weather has to change. It can’t happen soon enough.

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