Wheat Pete's Word, Oct. 23: Cob drop, scouting shifts, manure on wheat, and bean yield variability


There are some surprising yields being reported across much of Ontario — some shockingly good, others disastrously bad. For at least one farmer, a timely rain or two on just half the field means the same surprise happened in the same pass of the combine.

In this week’s edition of Wheat Pete’s Word, host Peter Johnson talks cob drop and the two things that may be at play, why farmers may need to change gears on scouting corn, and more about manure in the fall. Listen now, or download to listen off-line later!

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].


  • Harvest updates from Ontario: soybean harvest is wrapping up, wheat is going in, and even some corn has started!
  • Soybean crop is about 10 bushels/acre better than expected in some areas. We worried our bins full!
  • …but it is not all good. Lindsay area is absolutely sad. High teen to low 20 bushels/acre for soybeans. Even the best, best, best fields might only make 30-ish. The area missed all the rains.
  • One farmer says that on a field that got rain only on half the field the yield monitor jumped from 20 bushels to 40 bushels per acre. It was just the luck of the draw.
  • One farmer reports 8 bushel advantage on narrow rows for soybeans. It goes to show that if you are planting later, you need more population.
  • Rotation, rotation, rotation. In Lambton county, solid rotation made the difference between 30 bushel beans vs. 40, 50, and even 60 bushel beans. Especially in a stressful year like this one, soil health really shows its value.
  • Edible bean yields hit some records but in the same area soybean yields sucked. Wait a minute — how can that be? They are both beans! It all comes down to the timing of the rainfall and the flowering period, and they’re different enough that it can make a break a crop.
  • Early corn in deep southwest is hitting 200+ bushels an acre, but in eastern Ontario, such as Napanee, the range is 30 bushels to 250 bushels in the same field. That’s soil type driven, for sure, and a function of water holding capacity
  • Johnson was wrong: Corn has not brown layered yet! The corn was still working at pushing water out as of last week, even with mild frosts. That will make for better test weight.
  • What’s causing cob/ear drop? Stressed and drought areas are seeing cobs fall right off the stalk. Two things: one, the shank was possibly compromised while being formed, or was it….
  • We’re seeing way more Western Bean Cutworm damage than expected. At proper scouting time, Pete couldn’t find egg masses, but now there is definitely some pink ear mould and gibberella out there (but not nearly as bas as 2018). Is the cutworm coming in much later? Seeing as the tip of the cob is affected most. And in those super dry areas with cob drop, there is WBC damage IN some of the cobs but at the bottom of the cob. Was there cutworm chewing into the shank, further weakening the shank? Definitely needs more discussion. Should we be scouting differently?
  • A follow up to last week: Derwyn Hodgins, with Hensall Co-op says, “HC’s operations and HC quality assurance staff have stated the 2019 (black bean) crop is one of the best that we have ever received in terms of quality (low picks, ideal moistures, low CSC, good colour). Our reports also show our growers experienced some of the best BT yields they’ve have ever seen (18 to 40+ cwt/ac over a large acreage). Based on intake records, it’s hard to conclude Eragon (without glyphosate) has negatively affected yield and quality in ON, MB, MI, Min-Dak on 2019 Crop Black Beans.”  Hodgins says these numbers reflect deliveries from 80 different growers. It’s a learning curve to managing without glyphosate, but it can be done and with good results.
  • Questsion: how do I calculate the value of silage?  About 7-8 bu/dry corn per tonne of silage.
  • Bluegrass problem in winter wheat. Simplicity this fall, on emerged winter wheat. Better control when blue grass is small. Only Simplicity? Fleabane is the only weed that won’t be controlled
  • A farmer is using Par 3 for dandelion control. Which is giving me the control? Par 3 is a mix of 2, 4-D, mecoprop, and dicamba. The mix brings more to the table.
  • There’s forage grass with clover in the stand, and the farmer doesn’t want it there. How cool can it be and still get a good kill with a herbicide? Clover is a base 5 crop. Average night and day temps above 5degrees C means you can roll.\
  • Can you apply hog manure on wheat? Not on emerged wheat, but you can plant and immediately drag hose it on. But NOT a week later, as the coleoptile and first leaf would burn.

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