It’s been a challenging start for wheat in much of Western Canada this spring due to hot and dry conditions, which might lead growers and agronomists to ask “what if?” this cool season crop had been planted earlier.

Wheat’s yield potential is determined early on, at the three to six leaf stage, explains Brunel Sabourin of Antara Agronomy, based at Morris, Manitoba. In this Wheat School episode, Sabourin assesses how early-seeded wheat is faring on eastern side of the Prairies.

Depending on when it was seeded, much of this year’s crop in Western Canada experienced a heatwave with temperatures rising into the upper 30s (C) during that critical yield-determining period. In Manitoba’s Red River Valley, where Sabourin is located, temperatures soared into the 40s in the first week of June, knocking down historical temperature records as well as the 2021 wheat crop’s yield potential.

Despite the early heat and variable staging due to the dry conditions, Sabourin says the theory behind the advantages of early seeding wheat stands.

“The earlier we can seed it, the more we’re into that window of cooler weather, not only when it’s in that three to six leaf stage setting yields, but also later on when it’s flowering and filling,” he notes. “At the end of the day, I think the earlier seeded stuff has a better chance this year because of the heat.”

Check out the video below for more on the move to earlier seeding of wheat in Western Canada, and how early-seeded wheat in southern Manitoba has fared through hot, dry conditions:

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