Wheat Pete's Word, June 6: Weed height and corn yield loss, weevils, and a stripe rust alert


If everything goes south from here on in, we can blame Peter Johnson, host of the weekly Wheat Pete’s Word, as he proclaims this week that things are “looking pretty good out there.”

In this week’s edition, Johnson tackles current crop conditions, the fallout from super fast crop advancement, weed control in 6-leaf corn (and why you need to hop to it), and busts a myth about manure killing off weevils. The full summary follows after the player.

Have a question you’d like Johnson to address? Or some yield results to send in? Leave him a message at 1-888-746-3311, send him a tweet (@wheatpete), or email him at [email protected].

Did you know you can download this audio for later? Just scroll to the bottom of the post for the link or search for RealAgriculture in iTunes or your podcast app!


  • We’ve had a wicked good start to much of the Ontario crop. That said, there are some rough areas with terrible winterkill in hay fields. Even the timothy is dead in places!
  • Early condition update: corn that went in rough in mid-May looks rough, but soybeans put in later were out in three days, corn was out in four, and now we’re off to the races
  • Token marketing advice: have you sold a portion of your crop yet? There are many ways to take advantage of market pops. Look into the SellSmart app from Grain Farmers of Ontario, where you can set alerts to notify you when certain prices roll around
  • Corn is at the 5- to 6-leaf stage in many areas and even at 8-leaf in some spots. This means we’re hitting the weed control wall for many post-emerge chemistries. Too late of an application and you can get beer can ears or arrested development ears (Buster, is that you?). Stay on label, as there are lots of safe options, but get that weed control done, because…
  • For every 1″ of weed growth, you lose 2 bu/ac of corn, and it just gets worse. It also costs just as much to kill 2″ tall weeds as it does to kill them when they’re smaller, but it’s already cost you in bushels (later, 4″-8″ tall weeds cost you 3.5 bushels per inch of growth). Get that weed control done!
  • We should get results from the provincial soil nitrates survey later this week, as we approach side-dress timing. Initial indications are that our expectations were a little off, and we could be looking at an average year for N application in corn.
  • Holy Snapping! All this hot weather has the wheat crop acting like winter barley and pollinating in the boot. Does that protect against fusarium? Well, perhaps a little, but the big thing to scout for right now is …
  • Alert! Alert! Alert! See below for the tweet, but the first stripe rust has been identified in the province this week. Do you grow a susceptible variety? You’ll need to scout and protect that crop
  • Wheat has gone from first node to flag in just 10 days— what’s the impact on yield? It’s not as negative as 30 degree temps during grain fill, but we may have fewer resources in the stem so that may impact grain fill, and thinner stems could mean standability issues later on
  • Cereal leaf beetle is out there, could it be a spring wheat issue? Always scout! Prior to boot, the threshold is 3 larvae/stem. From boot to heading, it’s just 1 per stem. How long after heading do you keep spraying? Well, there is a limit as to when there’s an economic return. It’s easy to control, and has a nice yield boost iF you’re timely with control, but the only registered product is malathion, which we don’t want to use if we don’t have to. Remember to scout for other insects, too
  • There was a nasty frost out east! -3 degrees over night while wheat is in head will certainly do some damage. Look for bleached, off-colour, or water soaked kernels.  Not much you can do about it unless it’s bad and you can use it as a forage crop
  • Alfalfa weevil damage is also out there. Scout if you’re not cutting! Will liquid dairy manure after first cut help kill them? It will not. Sorry.

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