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#plant16 rolls on into winter cereals

By: Ken Panchuk, Provincial Specialist Soils and Mitchell Japp, Provincial Specialist, Cereal Crops

A field of winter wheat days away from
harvest. Photo taken July 24, 2016.
With an early spring and heat to drive rapid growth, some canola fields will be harvested before the end of August this year. Although planning for winter cereals is ideally part of spring crop planning, there is an excellent window of opportunity now to make plans for seeding winter cereals.

Field selection is an important first step in planning winter cereals, and this year there should be no shortage of harvested canola fields for direct seeding. Canola stubble is one of the best environments to sow winter cereals. The stubble is tall and durable, which helps to capture snow. Snow provides insulation for overwintering fall-seeded crops. Short stubble, fallow or pulse stubble are all less suitable because of increased exposure to the cold. Winter cereals are hardy, but they do benefit from protection from the cold.

A field of early-seeded canola just
finished flowering on July 24, 2016.
Using clean canola stubble fields is critical for minimizing the risk of wheat streak mosaic virus. Wheat streak mosaic virus is a disease carried by the wheat curl mite. While winter wheat varieties Radiant and AAC Elevate have resistance to the wheat curl mite, in all cases, winter wheat should be planted no less than 10 days after all cereal volunteers and neighbouring fields are dead or fully mature. The wheat curl mite has a short lifespan and requires green material, or the “green bridge,” to survive. There are no controls for wheat streak mosaic virus after it has infected a crop, so getting it started right is critical. Again, the early spring and heat will help bring cereals to maturity earlier so that winter cereals can be safely planted by eliminating the green bridge.

Plan to band slow release nitrogen fertilizer, by side banding or mid-row banding it away from the seed, in the fall to minimize the risk of nitrogen losses. Some phosphate and some potash banded with the seed provides a healthy start, and the potassium will help ensure optimum winter hardiness.

Eliminating the green bridge is a valid reason to delay planting, but seeding by optimum dates for your area will help to ensure that the winter cereals are at the optimum growth stage of three to four leaves before hardening off for winter. Checking in with the Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation (SCIC) about insurance coverage deadlines is also recommended. SCIC has a deadline of Aug. 25 to submit for coverage of winterkill and a Sept. 15 seeding deadline.

Optimum seeding dates for winter wheat.

Optimum seeding date

Area

August 27

Meadow Lake / Prince Albert / Nipawin

August 30

North Battleford / Saskatoon / Wynyard / Yorkton

September 3

Kindersley / Swift Current

September 6

Maple Creek / Estevan

 

Winter wheat will do best with good-quality large seed, combined with higher seeding rates (25 to 30 plants per square foot) and a seed treatment. Seeding rates should increase if planting is delayed. Winter wheat should be seeded between a 1.5 and 2.5 cm depth (0.5 to 1 inch).

Winter cereals have a high yield potential, especially when conditions are ideal. New hybrid rye varieties, in particular, have a very high yield potential. Although open-pollinated fall rye will also respond to fertilizer, the new hybrids will need lots of nutrients if they are to perform as anticipated.

Interested growers may need seed. Seed Locator is an online tool for finding certified seed; it allows anyone to search for seed in any province. It will also let the user know what varieties are available and who to contact to get it.


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