Wheat Pete's Word, June 28: Extreme hail, what's happening to nitrogen, and beautiful barley(!)


What’s with all the hail and rain?

In this week’s episode of Wheat Pete’s Word, RealAg agronomist Peter Johnson once again talks about the extreme weather Ontario has been facing, including the hail, and what it’ll take to recover.

He expresses excitement about some beautiful barley he’s seeing, but also disappointment as he talks of some flattened wheat.

Peter also covers the latest nitrogen questions (ie. whats happening to it?), corn, cereals and more for you in this episode.

Check out what Wheat Pete has to say in his Word and the summary below!

Your questions and feedback are needed! Leave Peter a message at 1-888-746-3311, send him a tweet (@wheatpete), or email him at [email protected].


  • Much like the other provinces in Canada, Ontario is seeing anywhere from very dry conditions, to way too wet of conditions.
  • Hail – wow! Every rainstorm that goes through seems to hit with hail somewhere. It’s like we are in Western Canada – because up there they get streaky hail all the time. They even have hail insurance in their crop insurance program. Here in Ontario, we usually don’t see that kind of hail. But wow – it just keeps happening! (Speaking of hail, look for some upcoming Corn and Soybean School videos on hail). On wheat, you can use 16 kernels per square foot if you want to estimate how much yield loss you had because of hail that is not recoverable.
  • For corn and soybeans, after 48 hours of being underwater, they have run out of oxygen. Roots have run out of oxygen so there’s no more root growth, and the roots go under stress. If temperatures are really cool, they will stand another 48 hours. So basically 4 days submerged, plants start to die. If the temperatures are really high then they often die a little quicker.
  • The bigger question from that standpoint is – what about the nitrogen? (We talked about this on a recent school video, which you can watch here.) You need to look at your soil type. If you are on a clay soil or a clay-loam soil then nitrogen loss potential is real. If you are counting on organic nitrogen, then I think you start backing away how much you rely on that organic nitrogen. When did you apply? if you applied all your nitrogen up front then I think you are at a much higher risk. And you may have lost 20 per cent of that nitrogen. You put all those factors together and then you can start using different nitrogen calculators and you come up with a thought process around whether or not, or how much, late nitrogen you need to apply. But in those situations, heavy soils, all the nitrogen up front, and count on organic nitrogen to make up some of that, I think late nitrogen has just got to be a part of the program this year. It’s going to take a little more nitrogen.
  • On barley that has had a ton of rain – does applying a fungicide pay? If ever a fungicide was going to pay, it’s going to pay on a crop that’s thick and lush and humid in the canopy because of all that rain… Barley responds to fungicides. No questions. The big problem is even though I can get tremendous yield response – 10 per cent, even sometimes 14 or 15 yield response – when you go to sell the stuff, it’s worth so little that it doesn’t always make economic sense. But if it was my barley crop, I’d be putting on a fungicide!
  • Happy 150th Birthday Canada, and keep sending me those questions!

Listen to previous episodes of the Word here.


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