Written By Kelsey Banks
When planning your next winter wheat crop there are many decisions to be made. For example, what fields will be going into winter wheat? What is the best seeding rate for those fields? Etc. Although all of these decisions are important to consider, there are three tips that will hopefully ease the stress of making these decisions and help you start your winter wheat crop off successfully.
- Planning Ahead
Mother Nature makes it tough for us to plan too much ahead of time, but it is important to look ahead at what we can manage. For example, to lower the risk of disease because that field has a history of a soil-borne disease that could affect your wheat such as common root rot or take-all, you may want to consider seed treatment fungicides, resistant varieties, and your crop rotation. Also, by planning ahead you can plan other factors that go into growing a successful winter wheat crop such as targeted seeding rates, fertilizer plan, and a chemical application plan based on past field history. Keep in mind if your plan includes the use these crop inputs, there could be price/economic advantages to buying those inputs this fall.
- Selecting the Right Variety
While you are putting together your winter wheat plan, there are resources available to look at what variety options are available and how they have done in the area. A great resource is the data supplied by the Ontario Cereal Crop Committee. The 2020 Winter Wheat Variety Performance Report is now available at https://www.gocereals.ca/. Click on ‘Performance’and select Area II which is the region Georgian Central falls into, and the trials they have run show data they have discovered from the three trial locations in Kincardine, Palmerston, Elora, and St. Mary’s. If you need assistance navigating through the data, I recommend speaking to an agronomist that may be able to help you navigate the data, but also may know your local area and have local knowledge. Selecting the right variety is important as it is a large factor for your winter wheat in each field.
- Utilize Your Digital Information
Not every grower has access to digital information from their fields, but if you do have access to the data, utilize the information. For example, a few growers have drones and although they take eye-catching photos, they are also a great tool to use in the planning process and in season. Using a drone to look for differences in the fields in season with the previous crop may show you where there are issues with compaction and may help you further plan for a successful winter wheat crop.
Further to drones, there are many precision agriculture tools being used on farms that are not being used to their full potential. An example of this would be topography maps. By looking at a topography map you can see the differences in the concaves (the low spots) and convex (the high spots) in your field so you can better plan for differences you may notice such as lower yield in the convex areas versus the higher yielding areas in the concaves. If you have access to these maps they are a great tool both in the planning and in season timing of the winter wheat crop.
I hope these three tips help you plan, reach, and grow a successful winter wheat crop. Happy harvest and seeding wheat 2020!