Ontario Field Crop Report - Canola and Cereals Seasonal Summary

Table of Contents

  1. Winter Canola
  2. Spring Canola
  3. Cabbage Seedpod Weevil
  4. Management of Winter Canola
  5. Seeding Date of Spring Canola
  6. Swede Midge
  7. Winter Cereals
  8. Spring Cereals
  9. Frost Seeding
  10. Delayed Seeding
  11. Seeding Rates
  12. Weed Control
  13. Related Links

Technical information can be obtained at the OMAFRA Field Crops Webpage and Crop Pest Ontario. Referenced OMAFRA Publications include the Agronomy Guide for Field Crops (Publication 811), the Field Crop Protection Guide (Publication 812), Guide to Weed Control (Publication 75), and Ontario Weeds (Publication 505). These can be obtained from your OMAFRA Resource Centre, or by calling 1-800-668-9938.

This is a brief summary of the 2004 canola and cereal cropping season, with emerging issues identified for consideration in the 2005 growing season. Reports for corn will follow. During the next year attend meetings, ask questions, and participate in projects to find answers to these and other issues.

Canola Seasonal Summary

Winter Canola

Dry weather during August - September 2003 delayed emergence of stands and caused uneven emergence. A number of these stands had below optimum growth before winter arrived. Below normal rainfall during March and April along with cold winds resulted in some additional stand loss due to heaving and desiccation. The best stands were those seeded in late August and into well drained soils. Cool weather, and good soil moisture during flowering resulted in good pod set.

Cabbage seedpod weevil populations were high again this year, requiring control in most fields. By maturity pod damage was significant, even in those fields sprayed for the weevil. The risk of white mould resulted in most stands being sprayed with fungicide.

Acreage of winter canola seeded during the fall of 2003 is approximately 1600 ha (4,000 acres). Yields averaged 1.25 to 1.5 tonnes/ac, which is lower than yields recorded in 2003.

Estimated seeded acreage this fall is between (8 to 10,000 ha). Although soil conditions were dry at seeding, those stands seeded by the end of August and with good seeding practices produced good stands. Slug populations were high this fall, and caused significant stand reductions in some no-till fields.

Spring Canola

Warm dry conditions in April provided a window for relatively early planting of spring canola. Abnormally cool temperatures and wet soils through most of May slowed germination and emergence. When warm weather returned in late May, a number of early planted stands required flea beetle control. Planting of canola in most areas did not resume until late May, and up to that time less than 50% of intended acres had been seeded. Northern growing areas experienced the greatest delays in planting with less than 50% of acreage seeded by the end of the first week in June. Delays in planting resulted in some switching of intended canola acres to soybeans.

The early planted canola was affected by cabbage seedpod weevil in some areas. White mould pressure was high during flowering and pod fill, which significantly impacted yields where not adequately controlled. Harvest occurred over a very extended period into September.

Estimated planted acreage was 35 to 40,000 acres. Overall yields were highly variable, with the provincial average estimated at � tonne/acre (1650 lbs/ac), below the long-term average.

Challenges for 2005

Cabbage Seedpod Weevil

Cabbage seedpod weevil continues to be an issue in winter canola and in some early seeded spring canola. Although early control of the adults was achieved through correct foliar insecticide timing, significant pod damage still occurred. Research and field trials on managing this pest are required.

Management of Winter Canola

Field experience with the hybrid Kronus the past two seasons has been very positive. Additional field trials and research into a number of production practices are required.

Seeding Date of Spring Canola

The wet spring of 2004 resulted in a wide window in planting dates for spring canola. The weather period during pollination and early pod fill is the most critical in determining final yield. Research and field trials into planting dates requires further investigation. How canola planted at different dates is impacted by cabbage seedpod weevil and swede midge requires monitoring.

Swede Midge

Swede midge is a relatively new insect pest in Ontario that can affect canola. Expanded survey and research work on distribution and it's impact on canola is required. Growers in identified areas need to be aware and scout for damage from swede midge. Report any findings to OMAF.

Cereals Seasonal Summary

Winter Cereals

The challenge of planting consistent winter wheat acreage continues! After a record 400,000 ha (1,000,000ac) crop in 2003, wet fall conditions in 2003 prevented many growers from seeding the acreage they intended. Final seeded acreage reached 300,000 ha (760,000ac), higher than might have been expected given the poor planting conditions. Much of this crop was seeded late, into poor soil conditions, putting it at risk for winter survival.

The fall of 2004 has been similar to 2003, challenging many growers to plant the wheat acreage they would like. Low prices have done nothing to stimulate extra wheat acres. However, growers have re-focused on planting dates, and much of this years' crop was seeded early to improve yield potential and winter survival. To achieve this target, growers pushed bean harvest to the limit, harvesting at high moisture or with many green beans in the sample. Dry soil conditions in the early planting window challenged producers, with variable emergence if planting depth was not sufficient to reach moisture. Wet conditions in mid to late October limited the number of acres planted, with an estimated 285,000 ha (715,000 ac) finally planted.

The trend toward soft red wheat (SRW) continues. From 44% soft red in 2003, to 55% soft red in 2004, growers have planted at least 67% of the 2005 crop to the soft red class this fall. This has been primarily at the expense of the soft white (SWW) class, dropping from 33% to 25% in 2003 and 2004 respectively, with the 2005 crop at 15% or less. Hard red wheat (HRW) has struggled to maintain its acreage share, as relative pricing of this class has not encouraged production. However, acreage has slipped only marginally, from a high of 23% in 2003 to 18% planted in the fall of 2004 for the 2005 harvest.

Many production challenges faced the 2004 wheat crop. Winter kill was a major concern with the poor planting conditions, but the crop pulled through in better shape than expected. Between 5 and 6% of the crop was destroyed due to winterkill, with a final harvested acreage of 290,000 has (725,000 ac). The most affected area for winterkill was Perth county, not the heavy clay soils of Lambton and Essex. The cause of this unusual twist is thought to be planting date/weather related, as much of the Perth crop was planted in what has been termed the "black hole" of wheat planting. The black hole is the time frame when wheat will reach only the two leaf stage before winter, the weakest stage of the plant, with no seed reserves left and no energy reserves yet stored in the crown. The concept of this black hole, and the ensuing discussion, is what prompted many growers to push bean harvest and wheat planting dates this fall. This has prompted OMAFRA to put in place some planting date trials, to determine if the hypothesis can be supported by science. Anyone interested in participating in this study should contact us via the cropline.

Leaf disease levels remained low throughout the early and mid season period, with sporadic exceptions. Stripe rust was found again this year, with specific varieties being particularly affected. With the addition of Headline to the fungicide arsenal, more acres were sprayed with a fungicide than in previous years, with 20% of the crop having some fungicide applied.

The disease that caused the most impact was Fusarium once again. High humidity during the flowering period caused significant infection across the province. Essex County had the highest infection levels. Less Folicur was applied than necessary, both due to wet conditions preventing ground application, and prediction maps challenged by our ability to accurately forecast weather.

As harvest progressed, it was evident that the soft white wheat class was by far the most affected. Fully 75% of the SWW crop was feed grade due to Fusarium, with 40% of the HRW and 25% of the SRW classes being downgraded. The damage from Fusarium, coupled with sprouting in areas that did not have Fusarium, is primarily responsible for the drop in SWW acres this planting season. The concerns of 1996 (90% of the crop feed or salvage) was narrowly averted, with the better tolerance of the SRW varieties, Folicur applications, and better knowledge of appropriate harvesting techniques. Fusarium remains the number one nemesis of the wheat crop.

Protein levels in the 2004 crop dropped significantly below normal values. HRW proteins were off by ½ a point, with fewer growers meeting the requirements for the protein premium. SRW and SWW proteins dropped by a full point, with some values below 6%! While low protein is desirable in soft wheat, values this low are below what is acceptable by the milling industry, and came as a significant surprise.

Despite these challenges, winter wheat yields were excellent across the province. The provincial average yield rings in at 73 bu/ac, just above trend line. This marks the 6th consecutive year of above average wheat yields, with the target of 100 bu/ac still on the horizon.

Spring Cereals

Opportunities to frost seed spring cereals in 2004 were very limited, with only a small acreage going in the ground. The earliest frost seeded spring cereal crops were in mid-March and had emerged by mid-April. Frost seeding was successful again this year, with some potential for this practice on heavy soils in the Niagara peninsula.

Traditional spring cereal seeding started by the 3rd week of April and progressed well in some areas of the west/central region, with limited progress in the eastern area of the province. Frequent showers and poor drying conditions delayed spring cereal planting into the 1st and 2nd week of May. Yield losses of 1 to 1 ½ bushels per acre per day are expected as seeding is delayed into mid-May. Some fields intended for spring cereals that were not able to be seeded by mid-May were switched to an alternative crops. Spring cereal acreage was reduced by up to 30% in some areas due to the wet conditions. Yellowing of early growth was evident in poorly drained fields, due to "wet feet" syndrome.

Frost seeded spring cereals emerged more unevenly than under traditional, dry soil seeding conditions, due to the cold conditions during early growth. Weed emergence in the frost seeded fields was similar to winter wheat, requiring herbicide application earlier than with later seeding dates. Timely weed control was important. Herbicide burn on older leaves from bromoxynil applications occurred in some areas. Bromoxynil injury is temporary and disappeared quickly as the crop started rapid development. Injury from grass control products was apparent in some fields, where weather stress enhanced uptake and reduced metabolism of the herbicide. Where grass and broadleaf herbicides were applied together under these stress conditions, some yield loss was experienced.

Fusarium Head Blight (FHB) pressure was heavy in spring wheat and barley fields. Infection was generally higher in late-planted fields. Combining with higher fan speeds and reducing ground speed helped blow many of the infected kernels out, significantly reducing the fusarium level in the grain.

Frequent rain showers and poor drying conditions delayed spring cereal harvest across most of the province. Storms in some areas resulted in significant lodging, making combining more difficult. Crop deterioration caused down grading of a significant portion of the crop to grade # 3, account mildew. Some of this wheat still had acceptable falling numbers for milling purposes.

Severe blast in oats (25% or higher) appeared specifically in the Peterborough region. Caused by a localized environmental stress, likely extreme temperature fluctuations, yet frost was not a factor. Oat yields were average to above average (73 bu/ac) and generally had good milling quality. Barley and mixed grain yields slipped somewhat, yielding only 57 bu/ac provincially. Barley continues to be plagued by fusarium, with toxin levels often above critical values for monogastric rations.

Spring wheat yields ranged widely, from 30 to over 70 bushels per acre. Provincially, yields were slightly below long term average, at 45 bu/ac. Wheat quality was variable, with only about 40% of the crop making milling grade 1 or 2. Fusarium and mildew were the main factors affecting grade.

Challenges for 2005

Frost Seeding

Frost seeding techniques have been proven under Ontario conditions the past two years. The advantages are greatest for spring wheat and oats, and less so for barley. The advantages are increased yields, reduced lodging, spreading out the work load and the risk of diseases such as Fusarium. Yield increases have ranged from 10 to 50%. The challenge is planting when the "window" of opportunity is presents itself. This window of opportunity is usually from mid-March to mid-April, after the snow has disappeared and the ground has thawed. Watch for daytime temperatures above freezing and night-time temperature dropping to - 4 to - 7 ° C. Planting into soybean stubble and using a no-till drill can allow growers to capitalize on the advantages of this seeding technique. A fall application of 1 litre per acre of a glyphosate herbicide will control problem weeds like wild carrot, chickweed and dandelion in fields targeted for frost seeding.

Delayed Seeding

Yield loss due to seeding delays increases from ½ bu/acre/day in late April, to 1 ½ bu/acre/day range by mid-May. If seeding is delayed past the first week of May, growers in southern Ontario should consider shifting unseeded spring cereal acreage to other crops. Past mid-May, growers in the Ottawa valley region should shift acreage. This will depend on acceptable options. If your need is for straw, consider buying winter wheat straw. When there is no alternative to spring cereals, growers should change from spring wheat and oat to 6-row barley varieties. Six-row barley has better heat and moisture stress tolerance than other spring cereals and therefore, tolerates late planting dates better. Late plantings often result in reduced tillering. Consider increasing the seeding rate by 15%.

Seeding Rates

Seeding rates vary depending on seed size (seeds/lb or kg) and the spring cereal crop. Seeding rate targets for Spring Wheat are 1.2 to 1.6 million seeds/acre. For Barley the target seeding rate is 1.0 to 1.4 million seeds/acre and for oats and mixed grain it is 0.8 to 1.2 million seeds/acre. Use the higher seeding rate for milling oats to improve uniform maturity and seed size at harvest. Planting by weight is not advised since target populations are drastically affected by seed size (seeds/lb or kg). It is important to calibrate drills and airseeders!

Weed Control

Weed control timing is important. After the second node it is too late for herbicide application. Research indicates that the yield loss from weed competition has already occurred, thus there is no benefit to spraying after this stage. For the control of perennial weeds, such as milkweed, Canada thistle, quack grass and perennial sow thistle in cereals, glyphosate can be applied preharvest when the grain is less than 30% moisture. For wheat and barley this is the hard-dough stage, when a thumbnail impression remains visible on the grains. Apply at least 7 days prior to harvest. Do not apply to seed crops or malting barley. Note that not all glyphosate products are registered on all crops. Refer to product labels.

Related Links

For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca