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Checking in with an Ont. winter wheat producer

Checking in with an Ont. winter wheat producer

Jennifer Doelman doesn’t have all of her wheat planted yet

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

Time is ticking for Jennifer Doelman.

The cash crop and forage producer from Douglas, Ont. has only planted about 40 acres of winter wheat and needs to get another 200 acres planted soon.

“Our planting deadline for crop insurance is Friday,” she told “Other places in Ontario have more time but for us in shorter growing areas it’s Friday.”

Planting winter wheat this far into October is late for Jennifer and her husband Michael.

The optimal planting dates for their area is around the middle of September, OMAFRA’s planting window map shows.

Issues with weather affecting other crops resulted in the delays, she said.

“We’ve been struggling getting our canola off,” she said. “It’s almost like the plants prematurely shut down and then started up again.”

The winter wheat the Doelmans do plant is different than what other Ontario producers are planting.

This is because they farm on heavy clay soils and ground prone to drought.

“Most of Ontario plants soft red winter wheat, but because of where we are, we find the hard red winter wheat yields better,” she said.

The Doelmans plant C&M seeds.

Most of the wheat is the Lexington variety.

“The quick emergence gives it an edge in stressful conditions and creates a strong start,” the product description says. “It continues with a beautiful deep lush crop canopy.”

This year the farmers will also be planting some of C&M’s Adrianus variety.

“This short variety exceeds expectations with great yield, functional quality and protein scores,” its description reads.

Crop management is an important part of any farmer’s to-do list.

And some of those management decisions for winter wheat are made well before the winter wheat goes in.

“We’ll intentionally plant a certain amount of a crop that comes off early so we can get winter wheat in the ground,” Doelman said. “Then, depending on our rotation, we’ll also pick a shorter-season soybean.”

The Doelmans also use starter fertilizer.

They use monoammonium phosphate (MAP) to help the crop.

“It gives the crop better pickup and vigor and increases the chances of winter survival,” she said. “There was one year my dad wasn’t sold on it. But between the fields where there was bin-run seed with no starter and certified seed with starter, there was a physical line of what survived and what didn’t. That sold me on why we should use starter.”

In addition, equipment setup is important.

Given the heavy clay they farm on, the Doelmans pay close attention to their drill.

“We have to ensure our drill is setup properly to manage residue,” she said. “We do everything no-till and given where we farm, we have to manage our soil structure very well.”

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