Wheat School: Strategies for record-setting winter wheat

Ontario set a new record for average winter wheat yield this year at 99.7 bu/ac.

And as winter finally settles in on the province, RealAgriculture agronomist Peter “Wheat Pete” Johnson says conditions are ripe for the fall-planted crop to break more records in 2023. But Mother Nature will have a lot to say about that before harvest gets underway next July.

On this episode of the RealAgriculture Wheat School, Johnson takes a look at the condition of the 2023 crop, one he says could break the record for planted acreage in the province. He’s enthusiastic about the condition of the crop as he reports from a near-perfect field at Embro, Ont. Overall, he notes that most of the wheat was seeded “a hair on the late side,” just outside the optimum window. Normally that would bring a frown to Johnson’s face, but with the best stretch of fall harvest weather in the province that most farmers have ever seen, Wheat Pete is all smiles.

“That slightly late-planted wheat is acting like wheat planted at the absolute perfect time… it has four and five leaves and two and three tillers — right in the sweet spot,” he says.

Johnson believes the province certainly has the potential to top the 100-bushel-per-acre mark in 2023 and growers can play a crucial role in pushing it over the century mark. “If you want wheat to do well you have to manage it,” he stresses.

“In the spring, as soon as it greens up, you gotta go… feed it some nitrogen early, get the sulphur on early, watch it for disease. And if Mother Nature will just smile on us in June and give us those cool nights just one more time, we could have record wheat acreage in the province of Ontario and we could break the 100-bushel-per-acre yield.”

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