Wheat Pete's Word, June 3 — A Billion Dollar Rain, Re-Scouting Frost-Damaged Fields, and Haying Kicks Off


The rain came, but was it in time? For those crops that escaped frost damage, this last week’s weather has been well worth the wait. For those anticipating new corn and soybean growth, however, the last week has led to more disappointments than expected. What’s going on? Peter Johnson kicks off this week’s Word with exactly that topic.

From how many new leaves you should see on corn by now, to what you will have to decide if you don’t meet that threshold, Johnson draws from his own experience as well as consultation with Greg Stewart, with Maizex, to offer guidance on whether or not those corn fields need a replant. The key message? Get out to those high-risk areas (much soils, sandy spots, hollows) and re-scout.

Farmers are looking to gauge yield potential, too, and those holding on to the “plants leaf stages behind the crop are weeds” need to let that old way of thinking go. As Johnson explains, plants at the 2-leaf stage while others are at the 6-leaf stage still contribute to yield, but will likely end up down 10 to 20%, but that’s still something to consider when thinking about replanting.

If you are going to replant, you’ve got plenty of herbicide options, but you MUST make sure there are no new corn plants emerging, as even just a little graminicide goes a long way in killing corn.

Story continues after the audio…

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Moving on from corn, farmers are reporting seeing many wheat and winter barley heads with blank spots where kernels should be (click here for an image). This is frost damage, where the seed essentially aborted. At a low level of incidence, where the lower portion of the head is unaffected, the lower kernels will likely compensate for at least some of the aborted kernels, Wheat Pete says. In those areas hardest hit by frost where some 50% of heads are injured — that’s a very different story.

Rounding out this week’s audio recap of this cropping update, Johnson answers questions on very short wheat that’s heading out — is there enough yield potential there to spend the money on a fungicide? He explains many things to consider but leaves us with the very memorable “If you don’t manage a poor wheat crop, it becomes a worse wheat crop.” And in keeping that in mind reminds farmers that late planted wheat still has 80-85% yield potential. So in all likelihood, spray.

While you’re out there scouting for frost damage, weeds and more, don’t forget to look for cereal leaf beetle, an insect showing up in many fields. The threshold is one beetle per stem at the heading stage, which isn’t where most fields are at, but it’s good to keep tabs on it, nonetheless. (All about the cereal leaf beetle here).

Also on the insect front, alfalfa weevil is kicking up a fuss in many hay fields right now. What do you do? Cut the hay! Trying to leave it a bit longer? Then you may have to spray for this pest, says Johnson, and he explains how to scout for it in the audio file above. (Read more about scouting for alfalfa weevil here.)

From there Johnson tackles herbicide injury showing up on some soybean crops that’s really not much to worry about, and offers advice on where or not to spray for weed stage or for crop stage when talking soybeans (hint: spray the weeds!). Reports of salt injury on corn could easily avoided, and should be, and we end off this week’s Word with a reminder that the benefits to a solid cover crop plan far outweigh most risks to increasing pest populations.

Listen to last week’s Wheat Pete’s Word, here.

Have a question, comment or feedback for Peter Johnson? Call 1-888-746-3311 to leave a message.

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