There is no doubt that the Ontario 2016 winter wheat crop was the best ever. Granted, there certainly was an extreme range. The crop was planted early in to prime conditions, roots were established well, and seemed well-prepared to face the winter hardships. Mother Nature provided the growers in the majority of SouthWestern Ontario with a mild winter gave the wheat crop the chance come alive in April and never look back. Just enough rain at certain times produced a crop above imagination. Just imagine how big the crop would have been if stripe rust had not robbed 25% of yield in the deep south!
Not Perfect Everywhere
The folks in Central Ontario experienced a similar set of conditions for establishment, but after the crop broke dormancy, the tap turned off. There is only so much that a plant can do with zero rain – moisture was the limiting factor and yields suffered there. Eastern Ontario Growers had the crop established well, but icing conditions through the winter choked out 20-25% of the stands. In Areas where ice did not wreck the stand, growers experienced some good yields, with a few reports being their best ever. Northern Ontario – not known to be able to produce winter wheat because of extreme cold – actually had a great crop. The wheat had snow cover and the temperature in the spring warmed quickly and didn’t revert to negative temperatures very often.
What does it mean for 2017
So what does that mean for 2017 crop?? Well, if I think about the planting conditions and the way the crop looked ahead of winter (November) in the last ten years, I would say current crop conditions most resembled those of November 2016. Knowing that proper establishment is one of the most critical factors leading to high yield, I would certainly say the current crop is in the “Well Established” category. No doubt, there is a lot of weather impacts that will be played out between here and harvest, by no means is another record breaking crop in the bank. But there is reason to believe, with anything that resembles a “normal” season for precipitation, that the wheat crop in the ground right now could provide above average yields.
As always, yield starts with even planting into good conditions. If we follow our early planting with a well managed fertility plan, we have the potential for another great winter wheat year.