Wheat crops excel in Ontario

CNS Canada — Ontario wheat producers are having a great start to the season, with healthy crops doubling in acreage from last year, according to a provincial cereals specialist.

“Winter wheat crop this year is looking excellent,” said Joanna Follings, who works for the Ontario ministry of agriculture in Guelph.

“We have some disease pressures from stripe rust, but most of the fungicide applications are holding that back, so overall the crop is looking very good.”

This year, Ontario has just under one million acres of wheat, a major jump from last year’s 500,000, Follings said.

“It’s one of our largest crops that has ever been planted in Ontario… We could have well over two million tonnes in production,” said Barry Senft, CEO of Grain Farmers of Ontario. “Some guys are saying this is the best crop they’ve seen for a number of years.”

The fall of 2014 was wet and cold during seeding season. These conditions mixed with a harsh winter made winter survival low going into 2015, Follings said.

“This year we had way better planting conditions in the fall of 2015 that allowed crops to get off to a great start, plus we didn’t have an overly harsh winter so much of the crops survived,” she said.

Some much-needed rain has come down over the last week, Senft said, which not only improved conditions for wheat fields, but also Ontario’s corn and soybean crops as well.

“The planting is done now for corn,” he said. “The majority of Ontario was fairly dry throughout seeding, the driest it’s been for a long time, but with the rain the corn is shooting up and doing pretty good at this time as well.”

Soybeans are also seeing a growth spurt after the rain, said Horst Bohner, the province’s soybean specialist in Guelph.

“Beans have now emerged and are now at the unifoliolate to second trifoliolate stage depending on when they were planted, of course,” he said. “We are where we need to be in terms of development.”

This year, there are 2.2 million acres of corn in Ontario, a slight rise from 2.1 million in 2015. Soybean crops were down to 2.7 million acres, compared to 2.9 million in 2015.

— Erin DeBooy writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting. Follow her at @ErinDeBooy on Twitter.

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