2017 Cereal Seasonal Summary

Table of Contents

  1. Fall 2016 Planting
  2. 2017 Growing Season
  3. Fall 2017 Planting

Technical information can also 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.

Fall 2016 Planting

Planting conditions started off well and continued through to November. Approximately 910,000 acres of winter wheat was seeded. The proportion of hard red wheat (HRW) acres dropped from 10% of the crop in the previous year to 7%. Soft white acreage dropped from 9% to 7% with soft red wheat making up the majority of the crop at 86%. The fall conditions provided an opportunity for wheat to be well tillered going into winter. Powdery mildew appeared in some fields in the fall.

2017 Growing Season

Although temperatures varied quite a bit throughout the winter, winter wheat survival was excellent with many stands being relatively thick with high tiller counts. However, significant visual differences could be seen in fields with later planting dates. Winter wheat fields that received a fall herbicide application to control weeds remained clean throughout the growing season. In a number of cases, fields that did not receive a fall applied herbicide had heavy weed pressure. Growers are encouraged to consider fall weed control in their winter wheat crop particularly when glyphosate resistant Canada fleabane is an issue.

Good conditions in March provided an opportunity for growers to broadcast red clover into their standing winter wheat crop. April, May and June brought above average rainfall for most of the province with the exception of the deep southwest part of the province which received less rainfall in June. The heavy rainfall in eastern and central Ontario left many fields water logged. The rainfall did however result in exceptional red clover stands throughout the province. Many growers allowed their red clover stands to continue to grow well into October to get the most benefits from root growth prior to desiccation.

As a result of wet conditions in April, only a small percentage of wheat received an early application of nitrogen. It is suspected that some of the early applied nitrogen may have been lost with the significant amounts of rainfall, particularly on sandy soils. The persistent wet conditions resulted in some growers having to move away from split applied nitrogen to one application. This was a concern for some growers particularly where there was a lodging risk. Nitrogen applications continued right through to flag leaf emergence with some growers applying nitrogen well beyond this stage, particularly in the Niagara region and eastern Ontario where it continued to remain wet.

Sulphur deficiency was prevalent in both winter and spring cereal crops once again this year. Growers continue to apply insurance rates of sulphur at 10 lbs/ac. In fields that have a history of response to sulphur applications or fields with higher amounts of nitrogen were receiving 15 to 20 lbs/ac of sulphur. Applying various sulphur strips at different rates down the field is a good way to determine if a field is responsive to sulphur applications.

Septoria and powdery mildew were present on some fields early in the season requiring an early fungicide application (T1). Stripe rust overwintered for the first time in Wisconsin and appeared in Ontario in Essex County in early May. The early introduction of stripe rust resulted in many growers implementing a two pass fungicide program (T2 and T3) to manage both stripe rust and fusarium head blight (FHB). Growers who selected stripe rust resistant varieties and implemented timely fungicide applications were able to successfully manage this disease. If a susceptible variety was grown and a fungicide was not applied in a timely manner, growers saw significant yield reductions. Despite the rainfall during the flowering period, FHB did not become an issue for many growers likely due to the cool nighttime temperatures that persisted throughout this critical period.

Cereal leaf beetle (CLB) were found above threshold in a number of winter wheat, spring wheat, barley, and oat fields this season. CLB larvae could be found early in the season chewing long strips of tissue creating the window-panning effect, with some fields appearing silver in colour due to the high levels of feeding. Some fields received a foliar insecticide application where natural enemy populations could not keep up and thresholds were reached before the heading stage.

Cool and wet weather conditions were prevalent in many areas of Ontario in 2017 and continued through winter wheat harvest. It was anticipated that winter wheat harvest would be 10-14 days earlier than normal but cool nighttime temperatures slowed the progress of the crop and as a result harvest was at the normal timing. Harvest began in Essex County the first week of July and by mid to late July was in full swing throughout much of the province. Harvest in Niagara County, central and eastern Ontario as well as parts of Grey and Bruce Counties was slightly delayed due to wet conditions. Despite the variable growing season, winter wheat yields exceeded expectations for many growers. However, the delayed planting from wet conditions, disease and cereal leaf beetle pressure did have an impact on spring cereal yields. The final average winter wheat yield was 90.2 bu/ac which is slightly down from the average yield in 2016 which was 95.9 bu/ac. Spring cereal yields were lower in 2017: spring wheat yielded 97% of the average at 53 bu/ac, mixed grain was 91% of the 10 year average, at 62 bu/ac, oats yielded 97% of the average at 81 bu/ac and barley yielded 89% of the average at 58 bu/ac. The quality of the winter wheat crop was excellent. However, the quality of spring cereals was not as good as winter cereals and was poorer than the 2016 crop. Elevators and millers reported high falling numbers and very low fusarium/DON in winter wheat. Where harvest was delayed due to rainfall, DON levels were slightly higher but generally below 0.3 ppm. There was also some sprouting in soft white wheat where harvest was delayed. Straw yields were generally strong and cover crop acreage planted after wheat continues to grow.

Fall 2017 Planting

Planting conditions started off well and continued through to mid-October with little disruption. Rainfall around Thanksgiving weekend halted soybean harvest and subsequently winter wheat planting but once conditions dried up planting continued through to November. Approximately 906,000 acres of winter wheat has been seeded which is slightly down from last year's 910,000 acres. The proportion of HRW acres is consistent with the previous year's crop at 7%. Soft white acreage dropped from 7% to 5% and the proportion of soft red wheat increased from 86% of the Ontario crop to 88%. Once again the fall conditions provided an opportunity for wheat to get well established prior going into winter. Growers should take note of fields planted early to ensure proper nitrogen management in the spring to reduce lodging risk.

Figure 1. Stripe rust in winter wheat with (background) and without (foreground) a fungicide application.

Figure 1. Stripe rust in winter wheat with (background) and without (foreground) a fungicide application.

Figure 2. Cereal leaf beetle larvae feeding on barley.

Figure 2. Cereal leaf beetle larvae feeding on barley.

For more information:
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E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca