This year, we have flooded out acres in the Meadow Lake area. One way to deal with these acres if it dries up is to seed winter wheat. Winter wheat is a crop that we have grown successfully in the past in this area.
Winter wheat is a great cropping choice in this area. It has the potential to use up water in the spring and get ready for the potential heavy rainfall that can affect some of the areas that did not get seeded this spring. Flooding is a concern with winter wheat but wet soil is not.
One of the main concerns that I have seen when winter wheat is a cropping choice is that people start planning too late. If winter wheat is going to part of your cropping plans for this season, start now with the required planning if you plan on being successful with the crop. The key to growing winter wheat is to be prepared.
The first consideration for growing a winter wheat crop is to know the target seeding date. In the Meadow Lake area, the best seeding date on average is on August 27. This seeding date is earlier than in the rest of the prairies, but it is early because our soils cool down in the fall. Cooler soils mean that the winter wheat plant grows less. This reduced growth potential means that the winter hardiness of the plant could be reduced if planted at a later date. If the winter wheat plant goes into the winter with four leaves, this gives the best potential for yield the next season. The August 27 date should allow this growth to happen.
Because the target seeding date is early, a producer should start looking for seed now. There are a number of winter wheat varieties that are available and each one has a market attached to it. When looking for seed, the question as to where the crop will be sold must be asked. How to market winter wheat has been a decision that has been made at seed purchase time in the last ten years. Talk to your grain merchant to see what might be an appropriate variety for you.
One consideration that exists for winter wheat is that a grower must closely at the field that the crop is to be planted on. Trash and stubble seem to be an important part of obtaining winter wheat survival. Fields that have trash cover on the ground and taller stubble are more likely to see better winter wheat survival. These two factors help moderate soil temperature and increase the survival of the crop. If tillage has to be part of the potential winter wheat fields background, keep it to a minimum insure good cover for the crop.
If you want to grow winter wheat, start planting now. It is a way that you may be able to grow more bushels.
By Dave Cubbon, P Ag