Wheat Pete's Word, June 12: Straw options, plant sunburns, and helping your neighbour


What a difference a week makes! While there are still areas struggling to get acres in, many parts of Ontario got enough of a dry window to jam thousands of acres in. The west continues to struggle with a lack of rainfall, though some areas in Alberta got snow. Yes, snow.

In this week’s Wheat Pete’s Word, host Peter Johnson has got an alert about cereal leaf beetles, some tips for dandelion and thistle control in alfalfa, an update on what’s plaguing the Ontario wheat crop, and some advice for those growing crops JUST for straw.

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


  • YES! Finally, two or more days in a row in Ontario with no rain and lots of producers got so much done! Lots of beans to go, lots of edible beans to go, but finally conditions have improved just a little for many.
  • There are some areas that didn’t get enough sun to dry out. Untiled land and heavy clays are  still extremely wet and some areas made almost no progress last weekend. And our hearts go out to them.
  • The flip side is, in Saskatchewan, some ranchers are already looking at selling cattle now and we’re not even into July. There’s just been no rain to speak of.
  • Hay starting to come off the field in Ontario, and as expected, the yields are low, about 60% of normal. Winter kill and cool, wet weather have really eaten into the hay supply, which has people asking about annual forage…
  • Oat and pea seed nearly sold out, as many are trying to build up forage supplies. Sorghum sudangrass seed is still out there. It goes in this late!
  • Reminder June 15th: report your unseeded acreage. Agricorp has extended the deadline to June 17 for corn and July 5 for soybean. Report what isn’t done on June 15, and you let them know after if you got any more in.
  • Wheat crop: some good, some bad. Powdery mildew is out there, and more than we’d expect at this time of year but the temperature just hasn’t been there and the canopy is just so wet. Perfect conditions for mildew development. There’s also lodging in early planted crop. October-planted is incredibly variable.
  • ALERT! Cereal leaf beetle:in the traditional area, you may need to control this pest. You can target T3 fungicide timing if you can wait, but you almost can’t wait. Outside of the traditional area, likely not an issue. Aphids building, but lots of beneficials to keep them in check right now
  • Physiological fleck is showing up. It’s basically a sunburn. Certain wheat varieties are susceptible, and it can be related to chloride deficiency, but no real way to correct it. It will impact yield if it’s severe, but not much you can do
  • There’s reports of leaf injury on late applied N (28%) it looks not great.
  • T3 timing of fungicide: there’s so much variability out there, make sure you’re waiting until day 3 or 4, and maybe even 5 or 6 to ensure those tillers are out (Check out the video here)
  • Strategies for growing straw on unseeded acreage? Livestock producers that need forage, you can after the unseeded deadline, grow oats and still get unseeded acreage benefit. Corn silage, even if late, can make a great forage crop — choose a short- season variety. It’ll keep the weeds down, too. win win! Help your neighbours.
  • At 10 cents a pound in the swath for straw, should you grow a crop JUST for straw? Absolutely you can, if you can find the oat seed. June 12 oats at Orangeville, what’s the yield potential? Depends on the weather. Cool weather is actually a benefit. But you MUST spray for rusts, even just for straw. Dial up the seeding rate. Let them grow up to antithesis, let it head and just pollinate. Then, about 10 days later, terminate and let it dry down, and sell as straw. It’ll be more nutrient-dense straw than normal. Account for 2 cents/lb of dry matter. Factor that in.
  • Wheat after sorghum sudangrass, is it the same risk of fusarium? It doesn’t effect sudangrass as much. Wheat after corn at higher risk. BUT still at some level at risk. Choose a moderately resistant variety, and spray at T3
  • Atrazine antagonism? Yes, atrazine antagonizes glyphosate, but really only gets in the way if it’s a weed that glyphosate struggles to control anyway
  • Dandelion and thistle control in alfalfa. There are two registered options in Western Canada, however both of those products are really active on alfalfa too, so it has to be dormant. Healthy alfalfa is by far the best weed control you have. To outcompete. Feed that alfalfa crop!

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