Wheat Pete's Word, July 15: Western bean cutworm, glorious rain, better cover crops, and record wheat


As mid-July hits, much of Ontario got a million dollar rain, but it also came with incredible wind and wild weather for some places. Western Canada also experienced some volatile weather and parts of Alberta that are typically dry are actually saturated (and not in a good way).

This week’s Wheat Pete’s Word focuses on weather impacts, why insect pressure is so much higher and worse in dry years, and why the total agronomic package can really shine in some conditions. Listen now, or scroll down and download for off-line listening 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].


  • Congrats to Kelsey Banks for finishing radiation for a brain tumour #KelseyStrong, Kick Bob to the curb! #pumpkinsforkelsey
  • Zero to hero: Rain was sporadic over the weekend, with some areas of Ontario getting zero and up to six inches of rain, but with some incredible wind. Some corn is bent over at 30 degrees.
  • What about lodged spring cereals? It’ll take a bite out of yield if the plant was not mature. Not a huge issue for a mature crop (though might make wheat tough to harvest)
  • Not much hail, thankfully, for Ontario. Be grateful for what we got, as Western Canada has been having a hail season. The rain was about 3/4″ to 2″ in most places, which is just about perfect
  • Soybeans aren’t drought tolerant — they’re just not in high need of water right now!
  • The corn is entering its most critical period — the week before and after pollination matter the most
  • Recipe for big wheat: plant early, two-pass fungicide, lots of fertility
  • For some, wheat is yielding big for sure, but for many this year is yielding average to 10 per cent or more below average, but given the heat, not that bad
  • New world record in wheat! Read more here.
  • Stay green concept: even without disease pressure, a fungicide can equal more yield because of that added photosynthesis. It’s about the whole package, too.
  • ALERT! Alternaria makes for some very black combines. It’s not a hit to yield, it comes in after yield is set, but it’s gross.
  • Make sure you have a water supply in the field while harvesting! If it stays dry and hot or you didn’t get rainfall, make sure you’re prepared for a field fire
  • Other safety reminders: lights on wagons, cull animals on temperament.
  • Reminder on corn: at tassel timing get up and over your corn crop and take a look at areas with a delay by 3 to 4 days, and figure out why those areas are behind
  • Post-anthesis N on wheat: can you put it with fusarium fungicide? NO! You’ll damage the head. Put on 30 pounds of N on its own. You need about 1/10 of a pound of N to give you 1% more protein in a bushel. Nitrogen Use Efficiency (NUE) is never better than 50%. So if you want 10 pounds to go in, you need 30 pounds on.
  • Saskatchewan farmer finally got some rain. Will late N bump yield? Not more kernels, but better test weight and some protein.
  • Western bean cutworm scouting is happening, and what’s in the traps doesn’t always tell the whole story. For one area, the trap had two moths, but in the field it was easy to find egg masses. Worrisome. Get out and scout. It’s an insect year.
  • Beetles everywhere! Spider mites. Flea beetles. But that doesn’t mean you spray, or be very selective in what you spray with (spider mites are not controlled by Matador, y’all)
  • Why more insects? They go through life cycles faster in the heat. And plants under stress have more concentrated amino acids flowing. Then, insect damage is worse, because the plant is growing slower, and finally, fungal pathogens that keep insects in check aren’t as prolific in dry weather. Western bean cutworm is an exception — it needs moisture.
  • 300,000 seeds per acre for double crop beans. Pretty late for some, but for the very southern climate there might be a chance if you can get them in, in a day or so.
  • What about value of soybeans as a cover crop? If you follow with corn, there may be a chance of the N being released in line with when the crop needed it, but there are WAY BETTER cover crop options than soybeans. So if you’re trying for double crop beans and it doesn’t work, that’s OK, but if there’s no chance of double cropping, choose something else
  • Cover crops don’t need to get super complicated, oats are just fine, we promise. 50 pounds of N on a cover crop will double the biomass of non-legume cover crops. You’ll get your biomass.

Wake up with RealAgriculture

Subscribe to our daily newsletters to keep you up-to-date with our latest coverage every morning.

Wake up with RealAgriculture

Other Episodes

Wheat Pete's Word (view all)Season 6 (2020) Episode 24

Please register to read and comment.


Register for a RealAgriculture account to manage your Shortcut menu instead of the default.