Ontario Winter Wheat Planting Bogged Down by Wet Weather

Excessive rain this fall is badly hurting Ontario winter wheat planting efforts and threatening the crop that did get into the ground.

In an email message Tuesday, Real Agriculture agronomist Peter Johnson estimated that only about 60% (or around 600,000 acres) of the total intended seeded area for 2022 has been planted, and widespread, heavy rain again on Monday means that most producers likely won’t get much further along. Meanwhile, as much as 25% of what did get planted this fall is in extremely poor condition, and at risk of ultimately being torn up in the spring and planted to another crop, he added.

“This will make straw supplies very tight next year, and dairy farmers that feed straw are already trying to firm up acres,” he said.

Johnson said the Niagara peninsula is probably the hardest hit area, with most growers having no winter wheat acres planted at all and little chance at this point of things drying up enough to allow them to get into the field. The other heavy clay areas (Essex, Lambton counties) are a bit better, but not much, he said. The best areas are the well-drained, lighter soil areas of Oxford, Perth, Huron and Middlesex counties, where there may be 75% of intended wheat acres in.

“Having said that, there are growers in that area with 100% seeded, and others with zero seeded,” Johnson said. “So it is a real guessing game.”

Johnson said there is wheat that looks excellent in the eastern part of the province – where conditions have been relatively drier – but that area is not a significant producer of winter wheat compared to the southwest.

Two weeks of dry weather might allow some additional winter wheat to get planted in the province, but Johnson suggested that even if that was the case, only another 10,000 to perhaps 25,000 acres might get into the ground. For the crop that is in the ground, some growers are mulling the possibility of frost seeding winter wheat in December to fix the drowned out spots. That may save some acres, but certainly no guarantees, he said.

“That shows the level of challenge out in the field,” Johnson said.

Poor weather is also slowing winter wheat planting across the border in the Soft Red states of Michigan and Ohio. Monday’s USDA crop progress report pegged planting in Michigan at just 68% complete as of Sunday, versus 80% on average. Ohio was 75% done as of Sunday, behind 85% normally.

Ontario producers planted an estimated 1.12 million acres to winter wheat in the fall of 2020, down just slightly from a year earlier. Given current strong prices, winter wheat planted area for harvest in 2022 was likely to increase. The new-crop July 2022 Chicago wheat future actually posted a new high on Monday at just over $7.63. With an Ontario elevator basis of $1.15 to $1.25 over, that makes $8.78 to $8.88 to the producer.

Source: DePutter Publishing Ltd.

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