Wheat Harvest has Started in Ontario!

A good start to a large crop

Wheat harvest has commenced in the province. The earliest reports indicate July 5 for some Essex county growers. Since then, there have been a few fields in Lambton and Huron county harvested. So far quality seems good and yields are better than expected considering how dry conditions were going into flowering and grain fill. For those with wheat that is ready to harvest, recent rain events have made harvest a challenge.  

The weather is completely out of our control, however, once the wheat reaches an acceptable moisture where a decent grain sample can be made then get it off the field! Do not wait for it to be completely dry, especially if wet weather lingers. This is where we talk about “Phantom Yield Loss”. Phantom yield loss is the loss of potential bushels that could have otherwise been harvested. Essentially it is a loss in test weight. This is why your first harvested wheat is generally the highest yielding and highest quality.

Wade Thomason, Extension Grains Specialist, Dept. of Crop & Soil Environmental Sciences, Virginia Tech conducted a study in 2001 and 2002 evaluating the effects of timely harvest compared to delaying harvest. The timely harvest moisture was 13.5% and the delayed harvest timing was 8 to 10 days later. Below is what he concluded from his study using two different cultivars.

There is a strong correlation between the number of rainfall events and loss in test weight. The more rainfall events equate to a higher loss in test weight. Wade found that on average, a 12-day delay in harvest resulted in a 6.4% reduction in test weight, going from an average of 58.8 lb/bu to 55.0 lb/bu.

The biggest influence on phantom yield loss is the number of wetting and drying cycles rather than the total amount of rainfall. However, large rainfall events do bring other concerns such as lodging and in more severe situations, possible hail damage causing head shelling.

How to manage Phantom Yield Loss:

  • Have the harvest equipment tuned up and ready to go.
  • Harvest early and harvest often!
  • Consider harvesting at higher moisture (15-17%) and running it though a dryer. I know many like to take wheat off dry to avoid drying costs. However, the cost of lost test weight could be greater if left in the field through multiple rain events.
  • The longer the wheat stays in the field the higher chance for reduced quality from increased toxin levels, sprouts, lodging, insects etc.

If anyone would like more information, please feel free to reach out to the Wheat Team.

Check out a previous Wheat News Plus about combine and header pre season checks. Ready-Set-Harvest

Have a safe and happy harvest season!

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