Wheat Pete's Word, Aug 7: Mid-rib worries, surprising wheat yields, and when a day is not a day in corn


Ah, August in Ontario, when the days are hot and the nights are…well, a little cool, to be honest. As a slightly delayed winter wheat harvest nears its end, all eyes are turned to the corn crop that’s just not fully tasseling in most parts of the province. Tasseling has more than a few farmers asking — will this corn finish?

On this week’s episode of Wheat Pete’s Word, host Peter Johnson answers that question with a discussion on how corn plants grow and adapt and how we measure “days” in growth, plus he offers an alert for brown mid-rib corn, a winter wheat yield explanation, and more, below.

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].


  • From flood to famine — There seems to be no equity with rain this season; it’s either too dry or just downpours of rain. But there have been a few timely showers of rain for some.
  • Rain begets rain, but the reverse is also true.
  • Let’s remember 2018: It was so dry and then turned very wet. The crop can look tough but still make it up.
  • It’s time to talk about the wonderful wheat crop! The early wheat that looked so good all year is actually kinda disappointing. Nothing over 130 bu/ac, mostly less. On the other side, the late wheat, that looked so rough, borderline keep or don’t keep running 90 bu/acre. Surprisingly good! What happened? Spring tillers on the later wheat bumped yields, though it did mean harvest was somewhat delayed. What hurts the early wheat? Cloud cover.
  • Now, what about profit? 100 bu wheat at $7 and 5,400 pounds of straw, $1,200 gross! You better be able to make money at that.
  • Data downer: Not enough winter wheat sites made it through winter and spring to actually release a performance report for Area 1, 2, 3, but there MAY be a report for Area 5 (Northern Ontario).
  • So send in those plot results to [email protected]. But remember that a single trial isn’t the same as a replicated trial, so be careful in making huge changes from
  • Alert! Alert! Alert! Brown mid-rib corn needs a fungicide, y’all. Findings out of New York State is that the brown mid-rib corn disease resistance just isn’t there.
  • Gibberella is a serious risk for 2019 — later planting can actually increase the risk, and high humidity too. Foggy mornings mean the risk is there. Make sure you’re spraying fungicide at the right time.
  • Corn development — a 90-day hybrid, when do the 90 days start? Days is a hard way to accurately 90 days at about 30 crop heat units per day, so about 2700 CHU variety. It’s a relative term. And remember night time temperatures play a role. Cool nights really slow things down from 32, 30 heat units per day, now we’re down to 23, 24, 25 heat units per day. Adds a day every week. Pushes us back a little more and a little more….
  • May 1 to June 10, 10-year average is 700 CHU. It was only 575 in 2019. Corn does adapt with later planting and speeds up the process by about 10% to try and make a kernel.
  • Crop heat units since June has been slightly above average, but now we’re into cooler nights and that is slowing down. After tassel, it’s less temperature-dependent, and more about time. But August 10 vs. July 10 tassel? Are we in for a wreck? No, but expect a late harvest, and we do need an open fall. A frost after Thanksgiving would be a nice treat, Mother Nature.

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