Wheat Pete's Word, July 26: Late tasseling, nitrate tests, and plot results


The weather continues to be all over the map, whether in Ontario or Western Canada, as RealAg agronomist Peter Johnson leads off this week’s edition of Wheat Pete’s Word.

He gives a quick update on crop insurance coverage, saying there’s some good news there.

There are also a number of issues to cover in corn, including the late-ness of tasseling, western bean cutworm moth counts, leaf diseases, and questions about measuring nitrogen availability. And in soybeans, we have an aphid alert.

Here’s this week’s Word, and find the summary below:

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


  • Yes, the weather — unbelievable! Differences across Ontario, I think thats true in Western Canada as well, northern Saskatchewan crops look great! They’ve been wet, and they are late, late, late! Meanwhile in Ontario, over the weekend, 10 inches of rain! Some areas of Ontario can’t even cut their hay it’s so wet, and other parts are busy combining their wheat crops!
  • Where are the plot results? A plot trial of sulphur on wheat is getting 16 bu/acre increase from the previous year when the trial was done. I’m sure there are more plot results out there, but nobody is sharing them with Wheat Pete! Why not?! Send them to me — [email protected]
  • A note from crop insurance — anyone that has a poor red clover stand and has crop insurance… call in a damage report – you need to talk to your adjuster, but once that happens you can go and you can seed oats or another crop, even before the 1st of September… as soon as you talk to the adjuster, you are good to go there.
  • Holy macro, the corn crop is late! Most of the varieties in Ontario are going to take 60 days from the time they tassle and silk, until they are mature. So the earlier stuff started poking tassles somewhere in the early 20’s of July… there’s an awful lot of corn that’s not going to tassle until the 1st of August, or maybe even as late as the 10th of August. You go 60 days from that, you are at the 1st of October, or maybe even the 10th of October! Watch low nighttime temperatures if it’s under 9 celsius at night, that’s bad for the corn crop. If it goes under 4 celsius at night, that’s really bad for the corn crop!
  • Western bean cutworm — moth counts are just through the roof in some areas, but not in all of Ontario, for goodness sakes! We are going to do more spraying than we did last year, and we need to, certainly there are lots of eggs being laid, but they are in specific areas. So watch what area you are in and what stage your crop is in before you spray!
  • Now we have northern corn leaf blight in the corn crop in Ontario. We are starting to find that it is a big deal! So this is an “ALERT ALERT ALERT!” Get out and scout. But also, look on the website (here), and talk to your dealer. There’s big big genetic differences into the susceptibility in northern corn leaf blight. It is a yield limiting disease. There’s no question about that! If you have good genetic resistance though you don’t need to worry about spraying a fungicide nearly as much as if you have poor genetic resistance. So please pay attention to that part of it.
  • Stop taking soil nitrates once the corn is over knee height! We simply can’t interpret them. And by the way, by the time you get to the first of August – there’s all sorts of research out there – you will not find nitrogen in the soil in a corn crop. We don’t understand those late nitrogen tests – so don’t rely on them!
  • On soybeans,  another “ALERT ALERT ALERT!” We have aphids in the soybean crop! You need to scout, because when those things take off, wow!

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