Manitoba's winter wheat harvest is underway.

Alex Griffiths is an agrologist with Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC).

"Last week, I think harvest got rolling for most fields south of the Number 1 [Highway]. Around Altona and such it probably got started even before that. I saw a couple of fields getting harvested Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday of last week. So far I've been hearing pretty decent yields, really good quality and most guys are very happy with what's coming off and I imagine that if this rain stays away a little bit more, fields north of the number one will probably get started late this week," he commented. "I'd say that the winter cereals were kind of affected the same as everything else, where we're probably a good 10 days or event two weeks behind what normally you'd have. I'd say the average year, you're probably starting harvest very early in the first week of August or even the last week of July."

Manitoba Agriculture reports 73,400 acres of winter wheat was seeded this year, up from 55,900 acres of winter wheat in 2021 and 32,000 acres in 2020.

Griffiths says about 25 percent of all winter wheat acres seeded in Manitoba in 2020 came from farmers taking part in DUC’s incentive program introduced that same year. This year, one third of DUC program participants had never grown winter wheat before, while another third had not grown it for five or more years.

DUC offers $20/acre up to $5,000, fertility advice from Western Ag – PRS CropCasting, full access to FarmLink’s new grain marketing tool ‘GrainFox’ and ongoing support from DUC’s winter wheat experts.

“I encourage everyone to try winter wheat,” says Griffiths. “Use a rainy day to plant, or a morning when the dew stops the combine. If the canola or 2-row barley is off early, those are excellent stubbles. Peas, summerfallow or unseeded acres can also work if planting early and paired with a winter-hardy variety like Wildfire or Goldrush.”

To encourage the use of winter wheat, the Habitat-Friendly Winter Wheat Ecolabel Program was created by Cereals Canada, Ducks Unlimited Canada and winter wheat grower groups to help Canadians make informed and sustainable purchase decisions. Products made under the Ecolabel program include Northern Keep Vodka, Coyote Pancakes Mix and speciality flours from Soulanges Mills.