News from the OMAFRA Field Crop Team
2020 Growing Season
With acreage up in many areas, most winter wheat came out of winter in excellent conditions with higher survival than normal. This is likely due to timely planting last fall. Cereal rye forage and cover crops also came out of winter looking good. By the end of March wheat was starting to green up and was looking excellent. However, after the warm spell in March and early April, the weather turned cold again and growers in parts of eastern Ontario did see some population losses in April and May due to water or ice damage There were concerns that the cold temperatures in late April to early May would have a negative impact on yield; however, while fields did see some yellowing, most fields were not advanced enough to see any significant damage from below zero nighttime temperatures.
By the first week of April many across the province had started seeding spring cereals with planting being wrapped up by the first week of May. Spring cereals were planted into excellent conditions overall with most emerging in 7-10 days despite the cool temperatures. Approximately 104,500 acres of oats were seeded across the province, 89,900 acres of barley was seeded, 116,500 acres of spring wheat was seeded, and 68,900 acres of mixed grain was seeded.
Hot, dry conditions through late June and early July advanced the wheat crop more quickly with a shortened grain fill period. Harvest began in Essex county the first week of July with most of the province full swing into harvest by the third week of July.
Despite the challenges with insects and dry conditions, winter wheat yields exceeded expectations for many. The average yield for soft red wheat was 85 bu/ac (101% of Average Farm Yield (AFY)), hard red wheat was 84 bu/ac (103% of AFY) and soft white wheat was 87 bu/ac (100% of AFY).
The quality of the winter wheat crop was excellent with most of the crop grading 2 or better. Some fields were downgraded to 3 or 4 primarily due to low test weights. Overall, elevators and millers reported high falling numbers with very low fusarium/DON levels and were quite happy with the Ontario crop. Straw yields were strong with prices being lower compared to the previous year when straw demand was high.
Spring cereal harvest started in late August and was prolonged from some persistent rainfall events. Despite these August rains, hot and dry conditions during the grain fill period likely had a negative effect on yield and yields were down compared to 2019. Spring wheat had an average yield of 47 bu/ac (83% of AFY), mixed grain averaged 63 bu/ac (91% AFY), oats averaged 82 bu/ac (96% of AFY) and barley was 60 bu/ac (96% of AFY).
Many experienced optimal weather in September and October allowing for timely soybean and edible bean harvest. This provided an opportunity for many to get their winter cereals seeded in their optimum planting window and into ideal conditions. Those fields that were planted in September are well tillered with good root systems going into winter. There have been reports of fields looking yellow, red or purple. This is a result of the top growth photosynthesizing and making energy while the roots are unable to keep up. The impact on yield is expected to be minimal.
Provided by OMAFRA Field Crop Team