Wheat Pete's Word, Oct. 9: Corn shanks, terminating cover crops, and maxed out seeding rates


Is frosted corn, toast? It all depends, says Peter “Wheat Pete” Johnson, so head on out and start checking those cob shanks!

On this week’s Wheat Pete’s Word, Johnson covers some key cover crop questions, why wheat seed rates might at max right now, and there’s some gibberella out there that needs attention.

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].


  • Huge thank you to Middlesex Soil & Crop for helping out the research world, and now we’ve got a Precision Planting Seed Force-enabled 1590 drill brand new! WOW.
  • Yes, here in Ontario we’ve got the F-Word: Frost. Some of the Ontario crop has frozen below the cob, especially up in Renfrew and Dundalk highlands. In isolated areas it’s quite bad. For a lot it’s not as bad as you think.
  • Soybean, silage, edible beans, rocking and rolling, with sunshine and a break in the weather for Ontario. But what’s with these high moisture soybeans?
  • There’s a new-to-Wheat Pete 9500 JD combine, and as we are working out the kinks, and were working hard to get residue spread. The soybeans dropped 1.7% moisture in the afternoon. A few hours later it was 13.2% — then 12.9%. But dropped fast. Below 13% we’re losing money! (Due to weight).
  • Planting wheat. Soil isn’t quite fit, and a little wet. Tickle the ground to dry it out? Well, in comparison to the west, who beat a 1884 snowfall record in Alberta, maybe we’re not doing so bad.
  • One farmer swathed canola August 21, and didn’t get back in the field to combine until Oct 4. Still 2-3% too wet. Takes a lot of air flow to dry. And sadly more snow is in the forecast…
  • Tough go in all three Prairie provinces as most are still at harvest.
  • Eastern Ontario, slow development: September weather records 17 days than 8 degree, and 6 below 4.
  • Some areas further into the maturation process are less impacted by cooler night time temps, but will keep moving. (because it’s less photosynthesis-dependent)
  • Frost on top leaves is far less an issue. Slice open the shank. If it’s water soaked, it’s done. What you have is what you have. IF it’s still firm and white, you are still getting translocation and it will continue to mature and dry down. Many will be OK!
  • Clarification on, “Does corn have to dent?” Hardness of the kernel is driven by protein, and denting is completely genetic driven. It’s not yield driven, at all.
  • Giberella is at lower levels than 2018, and isolated areas. In corn silage, a bit of DON, but not high levels. Last year it was a huge red flag. Still, if you see gib growth, get that corn out of the field. Under 64% moisture seems to be a bigger issue (likely stayed out longer).
  • Wheat seeding rates: mid-October in to 2 to 2.1 million seeds per acre, which is basically maxed out.
  • Sulphur response if applied on the wheat in the fall? Data doesn’t support for fall application.
  • A reminder to leave a check strip, or split a field, because just looking better isn’t enough
  • Frost-seeding buckwheat then into soybeans? It’s not very frost tolerant, and likely too late for soybeans.
  • Oat/pea/radish — don’t terminate, strip till and plant corn? Volunteer wheat issue, possibly, and it gets really matted.
  • Oilseed/sweet clover/ryegrass — had manure on it. Someone said to kill it with 2,4-D, work it. Well, it’s the ryegrass you might have to worry about. Kill it this fall, not the spring. And you can’t cultivate those root balls either, so plain for spring, not fall.

Please keep the feedback coming, but please be patient — Wheat Pete answers the most time sensitive ones first. There will be answers to some of the less time sensitive stuff after the growing season.

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