Top Winter Wheat Varieties in Manitoba – 2016

In 2016, there was approximately 134,000 acres of commercial winter wheat seeded in the fall of 2015 in Manitoba, as reported by producers for AgriInsurance purposes (acres do not include pedigree or organic production). This is down slightly from the 159,000 acres of winter wheat seeded the previous fall of 2014.

The variety Emerson, at 64.7% of Manitoba’s commercial winter wheat acreage, was the most popular variety grown in Manitoba in 2016 (compared to 54.2% in 2015 when it also the most popular).  Emerson was first released to producers in the fall of 2014 and is the first winter wheat variety with a Resistant (R) rating to fusarium head blight.

CDC Falcon remains in the second spot in 2016 at 12.4%, down from 2015 (20.7%). In third spot is AAC Gateway at 10.1%, which is a newer variety developed by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada – Lethbridge Research and Development Centre.  It is a shorter-statured variety, with good straw strength, good yield potential, and higher protein content. AAC Gateway belongs to the Canada Western Red Winter (CWRW) class.

Rounding out the top 5 include CDC Buteo at 5.5% and Flourish at 2.3%.  The top five varieties were grown on 95% of winter wheat acres in Manitoba. The remaining 5% of acres were seeded to 8 other winter wheat varieties.

Approximately 85% of commercial winter wheat acres were seeded to varieties belonging to the CWRW class, with the remaining acreage seeded to varieties of the new Canada Western Special Purpose (CWSP) class. The CWSP class is a new class created by the Canadian Grain Commission (CGC) as of August 1, 2016 (

Submitted by:  Pam de Rocquigny, Provincial Cereal Crops Specialist, Manitoba Agriculture


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Provincial 5-Year Average Yields for Cereal Crops in Manitoba

As Harvest 2016 progresses, there is always the question “How will this year’s yields compare to what producers typically see, i.e. average yields?”

If we use yield data reported by producers to Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation (MASC)  over the last 5-year period (2011 to 2015), average cereal crop yields are as follows:

  • red spring wheat – 51 bushels per acre
  • feed wheat – 68 bushels per acre
  • CPS wheat – 48 bushels per acre
  • barley – 64 bushels per acre
  • oats – 91 bushels per acre
  • winter wheat – 63 bushels per acre
  • fall rye – 44 bushels per acre

Note: varieties insured as feed wheat can belong to a number of wheat classes, including Canada Western Soft White Spring (CWSWS), Canada Western Special Purpose (CWSP) and Canada Northern Hard Red (CNHR), as well as unregistered varieties.

So far in 2016, yields for cereal crops are ranging from average to above the 5-year average.  However, there is variability noted across the province, largely due to the amount of precipitation received over the growing season.

Submitted by:  Pam de Rocquigny, Provincial Cereal Crops Specialist, Manitoba Agriculture

Data source:

Manitoba Agriculture website:
Manitoba Agriculture on Twitter: @MBGovAg
Manitoba Agriculture on YouTube:


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Acreage Seeded to the Various Wheat Classes in Manitoba – 2016

In 2016, there was approximately 2.8 million acres of wheat seeded in Manitoba, as reported by producers for AgriInsurance purposes (pedigree and organic production not included), down from 3.0 million acres in 2015.

The Canada Western Red Spring (CWRS) class remains the largest class of wheat grown in Manitoba.  In 2016, 79.3% of provincial acreage devoted to wheat production is sown to CWRS varieties.  This is down slightly from 86.0% in 2015.

The new wheat class Canada Northern Hard Red (CNHR) is the second largest class of wheat in Manitoba at 12.1% of the total wheat acreage. The class currently includes three varieties: Faller, Prosper and Elgin ND. This class of wheat grew as 7.8% of the total wheat acres were grown to those three varieties in 2015.

Winter wheat, which includes varieties belonging to the Canada Western Red Winter (CWRW) class, and the new Canada Western Special Purpose (CWSP) class, is the third largest category at 4.9% of total wheat acres, down from 5.3% in 2015.  Keep in mind for winter wheat, the number of acres represents what was seeded in the previous fall and does not reflect the number of acres remaining after winter injury or winterkill.

Combined, CWRS, CNHR and winter wheat account for 96.3% of total wheat acres in Manitoba in 2016 (compared to 96.1% in 2015).

The remaining 3.7% of wheat acres in 2016 are comprised of the smaller classes of wheat, including Canada Western Hard White Spring (CWHWS), Canada Western Amber Durum (CWAD), Canada Western Special Purpose (CWSP – spring varieties only), Canada Western Soft White Spring (CWSWS), Canada Prairie Spring Red (CPSR) and unregistered spring wheat varieties. There was a substantial increase in CPSR acres – approximately 59,400 acres in 2016 compared to 3900 acres in 2015. However, the other smaller classes of wheat saw decreases in 2016 acreage from 2015.

Submitted by:  Pam de Rocquigny, Provincial Cereal Crops Specialist, Manitoba Agriculture


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Book Enough Winter Wheat Seed to Hit Your Target Plant Stand!

It’s that time of year when producers are booking their winter wheat seed. To order enough seed, you’ll need to know how much is needed for the acres you have planned – and you can go one step further than using the ‘rule of thumb’ of 2 to 2.5 bushels per acre.  To calculate seeding rate and how much seed is needed, the following critical pieces of information are required.

Target Plant Stand. For winter wheat, producers should be aiming for a target plant stand of 30 plants per square foot in the fall. In the spring, it is hoped established plant stand will be 25 plants per square foot to maximize yield potential and increase crop competitiveness.

Thousand Kernel Weight (TKW). TKW is what it sounds like – the average weight in grams of a 1000 kernels. There is variability between winter wheat varieties commonly grown in Manitoba. If looking at registration data, varieties such as Emerson or CDC Falcon had TKWs around 29 to 30 grams, while varieties such as AAC Gateway had a TKW of 32 grams and AAC Elevate had a larger seed size of 36 grams per 1000 kernels. Remember TKW can change yearly based on growing conditions – just because your chosen winter wheat variety was 32 grams in 2015 does not mean that it will be the same in 2016.

Expected Seedling Survival Rate. Expected seedling survival rate is the percent germination less an amount for seedling mortality.

The percent germination will of course be available from your seed retailer if you are booking certified seed. If considering using farm-saved seed, also be sure to test – and make sure a test is done after seed cleaning and at an accredited lab (and no…..kernels on a wet paper towel on a windowsill is not a germination test!!). Since most germination tests are relatively inexpensive, it is a small price to pay. And while you are having percent germination done, get the TKW as well.

The other factor of expected seedling survival rate is seedling mortality, i.e. what percent of viable seed will germinate but not produce a plant. I wrote a Crop Chatter post on April 26th asking readers if they’d considered their seedling mortality. The focus was on spring cereals, but the same principles apply to winter wheat as well. Seedling mortality can vary greatly from year to year, and field to field. For spring cereals, seedling mortality rates can range from 5 to 20%.  However, for winter wheat a seedling mortality rate on the higher end of the range should be used to take into account winter survival.

The Western Winter Wheat Initiative ( suggests using an expected seedling survival rate of 70%, which takes into account germination, emergence rate and the impact of winter survival.

So obtaining the above information may not be as easy as using a bushel per acre seeding rate. However, taking those extra steps will help ensure you are hitting your target plant stand – one of the first steps in setting your 2017 winter wheat crop up for success.

Submitted by: Pam de Rocquigny, Provincial Cereal Crops Specialist, Manitoba Agriculture

For more information on winter wheat production, visit Manitoba Agriculture’s website at


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Estimating Harvest Losses in Cereals – Don’t Just Rely on the Grain Loss Monitor!


Winter wheat and fall rye harvest is underway in Manitoba. Since final yields aren’t determined until the crop is in the bin, attention now has to be focused on the harvest operation. Grain loss at harvesting time is a direct loss of income. The more grain saved, the greater the returns. The following information comes from 2 articles: ‘Grain Harvest Losses’ by V. Hofman with edits by Dr. J Wiersma & T. Allrich (University of Minnesota) and ‘Estimating Harvest Loss’ by G. Carlson & D. Clay (South Dakota State University).

Grain harvest losses result from shattering of the standing grain, shattering during windrowing (swathing) or direct combining, picking up the swath with the combine, and threshing, separating and cleaning within the combine. Estimates of acceptable losses for small grains such as wheat, barley and oats are placed at 3% of total yield (total yield equals harvested yield plus harvest losses).

It is usually very difficult to reduce total losses below 1 to 2% so the operator must decide on the value of the crop, the cost of combining and the time available for combining or climate conditions. Some harvest loss is unavoidable in order to get harvesting done in the time available with an end goal of cleaned harvested grain.

Estimating Harvest Losses.  Advancements in engineering have greatly improved harvest operations. Combines have various types of monitoring equipment available, including grain loss monitors, to help alert the operator to any potential problems.  A grain loss monitor is a good guide in selecting travel speed for varying conditions such as size of windrow and moisture conditions. A grain loss monitor must be calibrated to provide an acceptable grain loss reading. If the combine is used on different crops, the monitors are not only useful in limiting maximum speeds and losses, but can be used to properly feed the combine for optimum capacity.

However, a grain loss monitor is not a substitute for careful machine adjustments and good old fashioned monitoring, i.e. getting out of the combine to estimate losses. Or even better, when your local retail agronomist comes out with cold beverages, put him/her to work to estimate harvest losses.

A simple and rough estimate of grain loss requires the use of a one-foot square frame. A rough estimate of how much grain is left behind in a harvested field can be done with a few simple steps:

  1. Pick a typical area of the field after the combine has passed.
  2. Place a 1 ft by 1 ft (inside dimension) box on the ground and count the kernels found within the box. To improve accuracy, three counts (one behind the left side of the header, one behind the centre of the combine, and one behind the right side of the combine) are better.
  3. A one (1) bushel per acre loss equates to 20 wheat kernels/ft2, 14 barley kernels/ft2 and 10 oat kernels/ft2. Keep in mind that this is a ‘fudge factor’ but for the purpose of rough field estimation is an adequate estimate. There are more accurate ways to estimate harvest losses which take into consideration the width of windrower cut and combine cylinder.

If losses are on the high end, some investigation is warranted to try and identify the source of loss.  Is the crop shattering prior to the arrival of the combine (to check for losses that occurred prior to the arrival of the combine, i.e. shattering, use the method above in the unharvested areas of the field)? Are there header losses? Or are the losses due to less than perfect threshing/separation of grain within the combine?  Finding the answer may help to adjust the harvest operation and maximize the amount of grain going into the bin!

Good luck with #Harvest16!

Submitted by: Pam de Rocquigny, Provincial Cereal Crops Specialist, Manitoba Agriculture

Manitoba Agriculture website:
Manitoba Agriculture on Twitter: @MBGovAg
Manitoba Agriculture on YouTube:
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Modified from Post Originally Published July 30, 2014

Staging a crop for preharvest glyphosate application for perennial weed control can be difficult when there is variability of crop staging within the targeted field.  As well, kernels in the same spike will reach physiological maturity at different times, with the middle of the head maturing first. To go back to the basics, for wheat you want to apply the preharvest glyphosate when grain moisture of the wheat crop is less than 30%.  In terms of visual assessment, the wheat crop must be in the hard dough stage.  This is when the kernel has become firm and hard and a thumbnail impression remains on the seed (see Figure 1).  Remember….you can’t rely on the color of the field as an indicator.  Walk the field and hand thresh heads to determine kernel staging.

Figure 1:  Kernels at various times during grain filling: a) kernel at watery ripe, b) kernel at late milk, c) kernel at soft dough, d) kernel at hard dough showing loss of green color, and e) kernel ripe for harvest.

Source:  Growth and development guide for spring wheat. 1995.  S.R. Simmons, E.A. Oekle & P.M. Anderson.  Photographer:  Dave Hansen.


Another visual indicator for wheat is a change in color of the peduncle, which is the part of the stem located just below the head.  It will have turned very light green or yellow at physiological maturity (Figure 2).

Source: Topics Addressing Small Grain Crop Dry-down and Harvest . 2015. Jochum Wiersma, Small Grains Specialist; Doug Holen, Crops Extension Educator and Phyllis Bongard, Educational Development and Communications Specialist


So what is special about this 30% moisture content?  At the end of the hard dough stage, the kernel has reached its maximum dry weight and the wheat is therefore physiologically mature, i.e. no more weight is added to the grain.  Therefore, final yield has been determined.

If application of a preharvest glyphosate occurs prior to the 30% moisture content, yield can be reduced, along with quality factors such as test weightIn addition, early application prior to the recommended timing may result in grain with glyphosate levels above maximum residue limits.  This could have implications depending upon target market.

So in timing an application on a variable field, this will be difficult but remember its likely better to apply on the later side than too early.  Also remember that depending on weather conditions, glyphosate can take up to 2 weeks for optimal weed control. However, under hot, dry conditions harvest could commence is as little as 7 days after application.  So keep harvest timing and weather forecasts in mind as well when planning your preharvest application.

Notes: Do not apply to wheat, or any crops, grown for seed.  Not all glyphosate products are registered for preharvest application on all crop species – always refer to individual crop labels for a list of registered uses and crop species. Check with malt barley or milling oat buyers prior to application to confirm acceptance of glyphosate-treated grain.

Following label instructions and keeping in mind pre-harvest intervals are also key component in Cereals Canada’s Keep It Clean initiative. More information is available at

Submitted by:  Pam de Rocquigny, Provincial Cereal Crops Specialist, Manitoba Agriculture

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Fertilizer Implications in a Dry Spring for Winter Cereal Crops

Prior to the precipitation that started Wednesday, May 25th, it had been unusually dry this spring (Figure 1 below) and there are nitrogen fertilization implications.


Figure 1. Rainfall received in Carman, 2016.

Farmers and agronomists may be wondering about the fate of previously applied surface fertilizer. The 2 main concerns would have been stranding at the soil surface where it is isolated from the crop root zone, and volatilization loss.

Rainfall is the only solution for the positional stranding at the soil surface. For spring seeded crops this rainfall will likely have moved N into the root zone before any malnutrition of the seedling.  However surface applied N to fall rye and winter wheat may have been stranded during the main yield building period, since both crops are at the boot stage now (Figure 2 below).  So in the Carman area, topdressed N applied after April 17 was probably stranded.  Nitrogen moving into the root zone now will contribute more to protein than yield.

N Uptake by Wheat for Yield & Protein

Figure 2. Nitrogen uptake pattern by wheat (from C. Jones., Montana State University)

The other concern is of volatilization loss of surface applied N. But much of the surface applied N to spring seeded crops was onto dry soil – and we have had several  field demonstrations to measure volatilization loss using dosimeter tubes (see photo below). In the cases we have followed, the soil surface must have been dry enough to prevent measurable hydrolysis (where the urea molecule is cleaved into carbon dioxide and 2 ammonia molecules).  In fact urea pellets were observed intact for several weeks on the soil surface.  So unless a light shower had been received, I anticipate losses were minimal.  Where some soil moisture was present, the losses would have proceeded until the soil surface dried up.

figure 3

Figure 3. Dosimeter tubes to monitor ammonia loss from surface applied urea or UAN. Note intact urea pellets at soil surface some 10 days after application. There were no ammonia losses.


The best way to sense any N shortage in the crop is comparing to a N Rich Strip. Many farmers no longer overlap fertilizer so this is difficult to detect. If there is little to no colour difference between a N rich strip and the general field, then losses are probably minimal.

Submitted by: John Heard, Crop Nutrition Specialist, Manitoba Agriculture

For more information on soil fertility, visit Manitoba Agriculture’s website at
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The Potential Impact of Spring Frost on Winter Wheat

With the forecasted cooler overnight temperatures, here is a refresher on the potential impact spring frost can have on winter wheat crops in Manitoba. (Hopefully, we won’t have a need for this post!).  Currently, winter wheat acres range in development from tillering to stem elongation.

For winter wheat at tillering stage, plants can withstand very low temperatures for a period of time (-11°C for less than 2 hours). Frost damaged winter wheat at this stage will have leaf chlorosis and necrotic leaf tips. However, the effect on yield will be slight.

For winter wheat at jointing stage (stem elongation), plants can tolerate temperatures of -4°C for less than 2 hours.  Frost injury symptoms could include a dead leaf appearing in the whorl if the growing point was damaged, leaf yellowing or burning, or splitting or bending of the lower stem.  The impact to yield can range from moderate to severe, and lodging can also occur later in the season if stems were damaged.

For winter wheat at the boot stage, plants can tolerate temperatures of -2°C for less than 2 hours.  Frost injury symptoms in winter wheat (or even fall rye) can include spikes being trapped inside the boot and they may not emerge normally, spikes may emerge but may remain yellow or even white (sometimes only portions of the head may be impacted), awns may be twisted and you may see floret sterility resulting in poor kernel set and low grain yield.

In 2012, we did see winter wheat crops impacted by frost.  A frost event occurred May 30 when some winter wheat acres were at the early flag emergence stage.  When the spikes started to emerge, injury symptoms were noted.  In the photo below (taken by Ingrid Kristjanson, MAFRD),  you will note frost injury symptoms of twisted awns and incomplete kernel set.

Frost damaged winter wheat - ingrid

Frost Damaged Winter Wheat; Frost was Recorded May 30 at Early Flag Leaf Stage (2012) – Photo by Ingrid Kristjanson, Manitoba Agriculture

In Manitoba Agriculture’s June 3, 2015 webinar (available on YouTube at, I covered some of the basics of frost injury symptoms in winter cereal crops and what to look for in terms of recovery.

For more information on frost damage in winter cereals and other crop types, please refer to Manitoba Agriculture’s Spring Frost Damage Bulletin.

Submitted by:  Pam de Rocquigny, Provincial Cereal Crops Specialist, Manitoba Agriculture

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Winter Wheat Stand Assessment – Start Now but be Patient!

Winter wheat is starting to resume growth after what has been a generally mild winter in Manitoba.  Now is the time producers across Manitoba can start assessing their winter wheat stands.

So what should the plant stand be in a winter wheat field?   An optimum winter wheat plant stand consists of 20-30 plants per square foot.  However, it is well-known that winter wheat has the amazing ability to compensate for thin plant stands by increasing tillering.  The impact of poor stands on yield is not black and white.  Research has shown that a plant stand of 7-8 plants per square foot yields about 70-80% of a normal stand (see Target Plant Stands for Winter Wheat).   However, the key point to remember is a thin stand won’t likely compensate fully to produce full yields.

Trying to make the decision on whether to keep that winter wheat stand or replant is never easy and SHOULDN’T BE RUSHED. Stands are rarely uniform and the variability within the field makes the decision more difficult.  What is important to keep in mind is timely management in the spring increases the success of a winter wheat crop. A thin winter wheat stand with timely weed control and nitrogen fertilizer applied early will almost always be worth saving.

AgriInsurance Considerations:

Winter wheat and fall rye destroyed prior to June 20th are not be eligible for a Stage 1 indemnity (50% coverage), only the 25% reseed benefit for losses prior to June 20th. If you are considering reseeding due to  poor plant stands and before destroying any winter wheat fields, please contact your local MASC insurance agent.  For more information, please visit MASC’s website at:

Submitted by:  Pam de Rocquigny, Provincial Cereal Crops Specialist, Manitoba Agriculture

For more information on winter wheat production, visit Manitoba Agriculture’s website at
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Warm Conditions & Winter Wheat in Manitoba

Record warm temperatures across Manitoba at the end of November and start of December 2015 have producers asking what impact the weather conditions will have on their winter wheat crop.

The quick answer is the warm weather isn’t having a negative impact on winter wheat right now. 

Here is why. Over the past several weeks, winter wheat in Manitoba has been undergoing two important physiological changes – cold acclimation and vernalization.  It is the cold acclimation process that enables winter wheat plants to ‘harden off’ in order to survive numerous stresses during the over-wintering period.

The optimal conditions for developing the full genetic potential of cold hardiness in winter wheat are:

  1. Late August or early September seeding into standing stubble, with adequate moisture and temperature conditions to develop plants with 3 to 4 leaves and well-developed crown tissue.
    • In Manitoba, majority of these conditions were met this fall, leading to a winter wheat crop that is well-hardened.
  2. Open field conditions, with little or no snow cover until freeze-up, allowing soil temperatures to gradually decline to freezing levels.
    • Once again, Manitoba’s open fall with minimal snow cover to date has allowed our winter wheat crop to become well-hardened.

Winter wheat normally does not reach its maximum cold hardiness potential until after freeze-up in late fall. In Manitoba, full acclimation is usually achieved by late November to early December (see figure below). And although we have seen above normal air temperatures, soil temperatures have ranged between minus 1 to minus 4 degree Celsius over the past few weeks – many degrees away from having plants undergo complete dehardening and breaking of dormancy.


However, one more factor to consider is regardless of the amount of cold acclimation, we typically need to receive good snow cover to protect the crop from the sustained cold temperatures we normally see in January and February in Manitoba.

For more detailed information on winter hardiness in winter wheat, take the time to read the article “Basics of Cold Tolerance and Winter Survival in Winter Wheat’ from the 2001 Manitoba Agronomists Conference at

There is also real-time monitoring of soil temperatures in the five winter wheat fields in Manitoba (see the CropChatter post at

Submitted by: Pam de Rocquigny, Provincial Cereal Crops Specialist, MAFRD

For more information on Winter Wheat – Production and Management, visit:
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