OMAFRA Report: 2021 cereals seasonal summary

By Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

A report prepared by the staff of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. If you require further information, regarding this report, call the Elora Resource Centre at 519-846-0941  from 8:30am to 4:30pm.  For technical information, call the Agricultural Information Contact Centre at 1-877-424-1300.

Fall 2020

Many experienced optimal weather in September and October of 2020 allowing for timely soybean and edible bean harvest. This provided an opportunity to get winter cereals seeded in their optimum planting window and into ideal conditions.

Approximately 1,100,000 acres of winter wheat were seeded. The proportion of hard red wheat acres was down from eight per cent to 6% of the acres.

Soft white wheat acreage remained the same at 3% and the proportion of soft red wheat acres were slightly up at 91%. Prior to winter, fields had an opportunity to establish a deep root system and tiller, increasing the likelihood of winter survival.

2021 Growing Season

Winter wheat acreage was up in many areas with most coming out of winter in excellent condition. There were very few damage reports from winterkill.

The cereal rye forage and cover crops also came out of winter in good condition. By early March wheat was starting to green up and was looking excellent.

Warmer than average temperatures advanced crop development faster than normal. There were fields in Grey, Bruce and Wellington counties that did experience higher levels of snow mould, resulting in thinner stands.

Cereal Harvest

Hot, dry conditions through June advanced the wheat crop more quickly and shortened the grain fill period.

Eroded knolls and sandy areas of fields were “burning up” and turning prematurely.

At the end of June, much of Ontario experienced a significant thunderstorm that resulted in the wheat lodging in many fields. Some fields did manage to stand back-up, but many fields remained flat right through to harvest. Where PGRs were used, the lodging was often delayed or reduced.

Cover Crops

The good spring conditions in March provided an opportunity for growers to seed red clover.

It is estimated that red clover acres were similar to 2020 with approximately 30% of wheat fields being seeded. Once winter wheat was harvested, many growers opted to seed a cover crop.

Cover crop choices varied across the province with oats being one of the simplest and cost-effective choices, particularly for those looking for additional forage options.

Where available, growers applied manure and digestates to their wheat stubble.

Fall 2021 Winter Wheat Planting Conditions

While planting conditions for winter wheat were ideal through much of September, things quickly turned with the arrival of rain at the end of the month and remained wet right through to November.

This resulted in a significant portion of the winter wheat crop being planted beyond the optimum planting dates for any given region.

The persistent wet conditions resulted in poor emergence and drowned out areas of fields in some regions leaving variable stands.

There were also several reports of fields looking yellow, red or purple. This is likely a result of poor phosphorus uptake and root development, ultimately impacting the flow of sugars in the plant.

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