Ontario winter wheat sees acreage increase

After the price of wheat shot up in the summer of 2010, many producers in Ontario locked in contracts and as a result, the province has seen an increase in winter wheat acreage this year.

Peter Johnson, winter wheat specialist with the provincial ag ministry (OMAFRA) in Guelph, said one million acres were planted to winter wheat in Ontario in the 2010-11 crop year, up from 800,000 the previous year.

“We had a good fall and an early start to planting, and more producers than normal had forward contracts in place,” Johnson said. “That kept the impotence to plant wheat. It (wheat) kind of started the rally in all grains, and guys had to get the wheat in the ground to fulfill those contracts.”

Just as the case has been on the Prairies, Johnson said it has been a slow start to the spring in Ontario, which is not what producers were hoping for.

“Some of the smaller production areas in the northern region of the province, we are a tad concerned about some injury from cold temperatures after the snow left, but we are just monitoring that situation and don’t expect any big problems,” he said.

“In the southern part of the province we had a bit more snow than normal, so we are seeing a bit more snow mould than usual,” Johnson said. “That won’t wipe the crop out, but it does have some negative ramifications.”

Although there are a few mild concerns with the crop in specific regions, as a whole, conditions are pretty favourable, he said.

“The bulk of the province’s winter wheat crop is fine. There was no water sitting in it because the ground wasn’t frozen and we didn’t have a lot of snow. Plus the water went away quickly,” he said.

Johnson said a large crop is expected because of the early start producers got on planting the crop last fall.

“We planted early and whenever that happens we expect to have above average yields. That’s the trend at least,” he said. “Our trend line yield is at 81.3 bushels per acre, and we have a good shot at surpassing that.”

Asked if the price of winter wheat is still satisfying to producers, Johnson said they aren’t as pleased as they have been.

“Some growers forward-contracted last summer at C$5.50 per bushel, which pales in comparison to where things are today, as you could sell the same wheat at C$6.50 per bushel,” he said.

“With the way corn and soybeans have gone up, they aren’t feeling as good about the prices as they were.”

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