Wheat School: Planting strategies for 2019 unplanted acres

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Ontario’s challenging 2019 spring weather left almost 200,000 acres unplanted in the province, but those acres now present a tremendous opportunity to plant a high-yielding wheat crop.

That’s the message agronomist Peter Johnson shares with growers on this edition of the RealAgriculture Wheat School. “Planting early is the number one way to make great yields,” says Johnson. Growers, however, have to exercise some patience. If winter wheat is planted too early, the crop can build large root systems that can fall prey to soil disease organisms that infect plants with diseases such as fusarium crown rot, take all and eyespot. “Unfortunately you won’t know until next June and there goes the yield,” he adds.

To get the timing right for unplanted acres, Johnson recommends growers check out newly updated Ontario wheat planting dates at GoCereals.ca. He says growers can plant up to 10 days before the recommended date for their area without worry. Growers should also watch the forecast — if there’s rain coming, planting even a little earlier is worth the risk. (Story continues after the video.)

Johnson notes that growers should also be mindful of rotation. Wheat in the rotation is always a good thing, but too much wheat can increase disease risk.  Johnson’s other recommendations for early-planted wheat include:

  • Reduce the seeding rate. “If we are planting ahead of the optimum planting date we are going to give that crop a chance to tiller like crazy,” says Johnson. Shave back those seeding rates. Even on heavy clay, one million seeds per acre is plenty.
  • Plant deep enough. Especially on heavy clays where frost heave is a concern. “One inch and a quarter to one inch and a half should be the target.”
  • Fall weed control is huge, especially when it comes to controlling herbicide-resistant Canada fleabane.
  • Starter phosphorous still pays — even on early-planted wheat.

Click here for more Wheat School episodes.

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