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Setting up for a successful winter crop for 2022

09/07/2021

Setting up for a successful winter crop for 2022

By Chris Snip, CCA-ON, 4R NMS
Crop Sales Specialist, AGRIS Co-operative - Cottam

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With an interesting wheat harvest in the not-so-distant past, we will be planting our next wheat crop before we know it. The challenges of the 2021 wheat crop are still upon us, and if we are not careful, it will haunt our 2022 crop.

We all know the value of certified seed regardless of the crop, from quality, variety purity, genetics, seed treatments, and the list goes on. One component is of real concern for me, and that is germination. All seed must pass a certain level of germination to be allowed to be certified in Canada. The germination level can vary, but it guarantees the purchaser a minimum per cent germination. It is a common practice in Ontario for growers to save their own winter wheat seed as “bin run” seed. This practice can be viewed as saving money on certified seed and can work in a growers favour if the seed is good. The problem arises this year when saved seed may contain some sprouted kernels. Kernels that have already sprouted and have the sprouts knocked off may be undetected and will not make viable plants. Other concerns may be mixed varieties which are not representing pure varieties, or certain diseases were present in the field that the seed was saved from and will transfer to the new crop. Weed seeds may be introduced to new fields, or general quality is less than desirable.

It is no secret that wheat grain quality is extremely variable this year, and this has transferred over to seed quality if a grower was planning on saving seed for planting this fall. It is always recommended if you are saving seed to do a germination test to check the germination percentage of viable seeds. This year I believe this practice is more important than ever. We have sent a few samples away already and have had seed come back anywhere from 66% to 98%. No one would ever plant a crop with the best intentions and take care of it with the highest yield expectation of 66% of normal. I am sure there are also wheat samples out there that would test lower. If you have some wheat seed you are planning to use, I encourage you to get a germination test.

Better yet, to ensure you put great quality seed in the soil this fall, purchase certified seed; as I mentioned above, this takes all the worries away from the issues that can arise from using “bin run” seed. AGRIS Co-operative carries a great lineup of winter wheat seed from C&M Seeds; some newer fantastic varieties are available and are well worth the try. Talk you’re your Crop Sales Specialist to see which varieties will perform the best on your farm.

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