Wheat Pete's Word, Aug 11: Cobless Corn, Rising Hay Prices & Alfalfa Reseed Decisions


Cobless corn, 35 bu/ac oats, rising hay prices — the drought of 2016 continues to take its toll. Peter Johnson, resident agronomist at RealAgriculture, and host of the Word, discusses the impact the dryness is having on corn, spring cereal yields and the implications for applying manure, among other agronomic challenges facing Ontario growers.

Listen or download below! And of course, if you have a question for Wheat Pete, call 1-888-746-3311, send him a tweet (@wheatpete), or email him at [email protected].

Drought, continued:

  • There’s corn growing with no cob, did not pollinate.
  • In some cases, corn is just starting to show severe dry weather impact. As long as leaves don’t fire above cob, you might not be in real bad shape

Hay shortage:

  • Baled hay is in short supply. No second or third cut in many areas, but first cut wasn’t even good in eastern Ontario.

Poor spring cereals yields:

  • Farmer reporting 35 bu/ac oats. Last year was 135, and would normally expect 90-100. Thankfully, winter wheat was average to above average, notes Peter. “Better not to have all your eggs in one basket.”


  • More and more reports of spider mites in soybeans. Dimethoate chemistries are in short supply, but only want to spray up to R5.5 or R6. Spider mites also affecting edible beans and corn.
  • Leafhoppers in alfalfa and edible beans. Sporadic reports still coming in. They do the most damage under these drought conditions.

Thin alfalfa stands:

  • Newly-seeded alfalfa stands look poor — what to do with it? Did seed germinate? Will it still come if it rains? If it germinated and ran out of moisture, then yes, consider reseeding, but you will need moisture. Alfalfa needs at least six or eight weeks of growth in fall to get a big enough crown to survive the winter.


  • Silage is already coming off — watch the nitrates. Expect levels to stay low until we see rain.
  • How to price cobless corn silage, as dairy guys need feed. It’s roughly worth 1.2 to 1.5 cents of phosphorus and potash per pound of dry matter in that silage (at 65 percent moisture). You do have to replace that P &K (and that isn’t placing value on N, S or organic matter.) Also cobless silage will likely be lower in energy and high in lignin.

Manure management

  • “I’m spreading dairy manure — does it need to be worked in?” The longer it sits on surface with no rain, less will be lost. If rain is coming, then working it does reduce risk of losses.
  • Dy cattle manure is much less prone to movement. Will reduce odour if you work it in.

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