Wheat School: Learning from 2021 winter wheat planting

Mike Holzworth and Peter Johnson inspect C&M Seeds research plots

Planting winter wheat research plots at C&M Seeds near Palmerston, Ont. proved challenging during the difficult 2021 fall conditions.

On this episode of the RealAgriculture Wheat School Peter Johnson and C&M research agronomist Mike Holzworth tour the plots and share what the challenging conditions revealed about winter wheat planting dates.

The research plots were planted at three different dates, ranging from relatively early to late — Oct. 2, Oct. 29, and Nov 8. In the video, the benefits of early planting are obvious. Holzworth notes that he didn’t see the Nov. 8-planted wheat last year, but it did arrive this spring and it’s looked good.

Johnson says that’s another example of wheat’s ability to succeed even when planted extremely late. The Oct. 2-planted wheat, however, is clearly the winner. In these plots, the heading date was 10 days earlier, head counts were higher and the plants were taller — 41 inches versus 34 inches — for the same variety. (Story continues after the video.)

Johnson says that difference in heading timing is critical because it pushes grain fill 10-days earlier and helps avoid hotter summer days, which can compromise grain fill. He notes that the taller plants do increase lodging risk, but growers can make management decisions to mitigate lodging. There was no lodging in the late-planted wheat.

But at harvest, Holzworth feels the earlier-planted wheat will easily win the day. He predicts a 15 to 20 bu/ac yield advantage for the wheat planted Oct. 2.

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