Ont. winter wheat behind normal pace, so far

(Resource News International) — Ontario’s winter wheat crop is behind normal development but with the recent arrival of warmer weather the crop is “looking better every day,” according to Larry Shapton, general manager of the Ontario Wheat Producers’ Marketing Board.

This year’s winterkill rate is expected to range from 10 to 12 per cent of the total crop, which is higher than the average rate of three to five per cent, Shapton said.

That means that of the roughly 950,000 winter wheat acres seeded in Ontario in the fall, anywhere from 800,000 to 850,000 acres will be harvested this summer.

A tough spring and poor seeding conditions in the fall are expected to bring yields back in line with five-year averages of 75 to 76 bushels an acre, compared with 80-plus-bushel yields in the last couple of years, Shapton said.

The winter wheat crop is roughly 10 to 14 days behind normal development due to a lack of warm weather.

“We didn’t have the heat and things are behind. It’s past the middle of May and we should have wheat up to our knees or higher by now but we’re a long ways from that,” Shapton said.

That said, temperatures in Ontario have climbed recently and the winter wheat crop is expected to catch-up.

“In a few days, there could be a whole different story as far as the crop’s development goes,” Shapton said.

The province’s winter wheat production was pegged by Shapton around 1.75 million tonnes, the majority of which is soft red winter wheat. Hard red winter wheat accounts for roughly five per cent and hard white winter wheat for roughly five to seven per cent of the total.

There will be plenty of soft red winter wheat in Ontario to export and market, Shapton said.

“We’ll still have the third- or fourth-largest crop we’ve ever had. Long-term provincial averages are probably around 750,000 acres and we’re still at 850,000. We’re down significantly from 1.25 (million acres) last year but still well above average,” he said.

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