Wheat School: Plant winter wheat on time to increase yield

Planting winter wheat on time is the most cost effective way to increase winter wheat yields in Ontario.

That’s the key message Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs cereals specialist Joanna Follings has for growers as winter wheat planting gets underway in the province. “Timely planting is so so critical to optimizing your yields. And it costs you nothing. By getting that wheat planted on time, [even] a week earlier, you’re able to optimize and maximize your yield potential.”

On this episode of the RealAgriculture Wheat School we catch up with Follings at the C&M Seeds Industry Day where she and NK agronomist Emma Dieleman shared planting tips for growers.  Dieleman, a recent University of Guelph graduate, shared some of her research on the impacts of different timings for planting winter wheat.

The research looked at four different planting timings at Ridgetown (Sept 23, Oct 10, Oct. 27 and Nov. 15) and Exeter (Sept 18, Oct. 2, Oct. 16, and Nov. 1). In the study, the timings are referred to as early, mid-early, mid-late and late.

“What we found was that we are maximizing our yields at early planting dates,” says Dieleman. “We saw that at all of our site years — you’re gonna get your highest yields at the early planting dates.” The results show that, at planting, growers can expect 100 per cent of their maximum yield when planting early; 95 to 100 per cent when planting mid-early; 75 to 80 per cent at mid-late; and 65 to 80 percent when planting late. (Story continues after the video.)

Follings stresses that there is no substitute for timely planting. She notes that research comparing standard and intensive management systems — including higher nitrogen rates, additional fungicide and a PGR — showed no yield difference across the planting dates.

Management does matter, however. “What that tells us is that our management is more about timing, says Follings. “If we have an earlier-planted crop, and it’s the springtime, we’re ready to put on nitrogen, and we’ve got lots of tillers there, we could probably delay that early nitrogen application.

“But if we’ve got a late-planted field, where we don’t have lots of tillering, we’ve got a thinner canopy, we actually want to be going out right at green up and getting that nitrogen on. So in terms of management, what this research found is it’s more about timing rather than intensity,” she notes.

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