Wheat Pete's Word, Oct. 2: Snowed-on harvests, high moisture corn, chicken manure, and fall herbicide options


Western Canada got absolutely hammered by snow this last week, which brings up questions on lifters, stripper headers, and more.

For Ontario, soybean harvest is late but rolling, and that means the questions about winter wheat seeding are also rolling in to Wheat Pete’s Word host, Peter Johnson’s mailbox! From when to bump seeding rates, to why skipping MCPA in the fall might be wise, to having earthworm’s plant rye (!), and on to when chicken manure is best applied, this week’s Word is full of agronomy gems.

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].


  • RealAgriculture did really well at the Canadian Farm Writer Awards last week.
  • And congrats to Dr. Peter Sikkema, too, for his Distinguished Professor award from the University of Guelph!
  • Alert! If you do not have lights on your wagons, please take a rain day and get those lights on and working. Farm safety and especially road safety is so important this time of year.
  •  52″ of snow in fell in Montana this last week, and less, but still a foot and more fell in southern Alberta. Stripper headers can do a good job on wheat and barley, and get those lifters on. Wet and cold weather has set in, in so many areas and will make harvest a big challenge.
  • September in Ontario was relatively dry and warmer than average, though. 40 CHU above average
  • Starting to get some fall rain, which is annoying when trying to get the wheat in and the crop off.
  • Variability of wheat germination already? Likely moisture related, if planting depth was consistent.
  • Rice in southern Ontario, in Kent County, was harvested last week. Yes, rice.
  • Corn maturity — farmer says the corn is not denting. It’s at 1/4 milk line, two different hybrids. Two reasons: some short season hybrids have flint genetics and if stressed may not dent, or could mean high test weight. Could be good news.
  • What happens to corn that was immature, maybe half milk line, and ends up snowed on/frozen? It really does depend on how mature it was at the time of freezing. Some will be so high in moisture you won’t be able to touch it until spring. Could be 25 per cent -40 25 per cent yield loss. Kernel integrity is part of the issue. Either wait until totally frozen (when dealing with 50 25 per cent moisture), or spring. Fines will be an issue. But feed value can still be there!
  • Wheat seeding rates: one variety says to target 1.6 million seeds per acre… is that for optimum dates only? Soybeans could be three weeks to a month later, if I up my seeds per acre I’m going to need more seed. So, what do I do? Super late can make higher rate pay, but two weeks after optimum is still probably OK.
  • Chicken manure ahead of the wheat crop yes or no? Well, you’re going to lose 50 per cent of the nitrogen before the wheat crop can use it. Wait until spring, or put it on after the wheat, plant a cover crop, and let it turn it into biomass.
  • Horsetail control in the fall? Well, it’s really a revenge spray at this point and a risk to the crop. Not worth it.
  • Glyphosate/Eragon/MCPA before rye emergence, is this trouble? Pete says, “Can you leave the MCPA out? ” It just doesn’t offer enough value at this point, with a slight risk.
  • Earthworms feeding on corn residue is helping plant rye seeds for one eastern Ontario farmer (see below). How many are digested and how many germinate? Would be neat to find out.
  • Cereal rye questions: twin rows, fall forage cuts, and more!

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