Wheat Pete's Word, Sept 8: Ugly worms, silo gas risks, hail, and P & K in the fall


Have you checked your corn cobs lately?

On this week’s episode of Wheat Pete’s Word, host Peter Johnson laments the state of some corn in the Ottawa Valley that is quite heavily infested with western bean cutworm. What happens with WBC and corn? Why, gibberella and DON production, of course. It’s all bad! Johnson also discusses tips for establishing very early wheat, and reminds us all that silo gas can be deadly; please be safe.

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].


  • Wild weather plastered some areas with high winds, rain, and some hail in Ontario
  • Pod loss of soybeans and edible beans will really hurt
  • Stripped leaves on corn will not hurt yield nearly as much as dropped pods hurt soybeans
  • Greg Stewart is predicting 191.3 bu/ac, north of 51 on soybeans, he says
  • Silage yields so far have been solid, not records, but quite strong
  • Don’t miss the moisture window on silage! Low humidity days recently could mean you lose one per cent per day
  • Please remember to be silo gas safe. It’s been dry and then a return to moisture, that’s when the corn picks up nitrates. Be safe! Wear a monitor, don’t work alone
  • DON levels in the silage crop appear low, and that’s a good indication
  • Western bean cutworm in the Ottawa Valley, just gross (see below), even on heavy clay soils
  • Sandy soil hot spots are more the norm in other areas of the province
  • Harvest any WBC-affected fields as soon as possible, DON will be higher
  • Awesome edible bean yields are rolling in
  • Cranberry bean yields are excellent; some record level, even. Some beans are small. Due to dry August, likely
  • Even root rot affected fields are doing OK, which is surprising
  • Teeswater Fair is giving out COVID-19 vaccinations this year, next year, they’ll be checking for prostate cancer and breast cancer!
  • Talking about trees and tree lines — people have feelings about this
  • Charlie Baldwin’s research says the perfect windbreak had trees that had branches go to the ground (conifers), hardwoods are too tall and root into the field
  • Super early wheat planting? Considerations: step one is seeding rate. 100 GDD for a wheat plant to go through a growth stage
  • Wheat seed in the ground at September 8, means we’re going to accumulate several GDDs, that means more tillers. More tillers equal more heads, and you need to support those heads. Dial back the seeding rate that early (1.2 to 1.4 million seeds per acre)
  • Fall weed control, ahead, not in-crop
  • Seed placed P is needed, for sure, plant to moisture
  • Fall N? Five years of fall N in Ontario showed no yield benefit, versus the UK, where wheat grows nearly year round (just slower). Whatever is in the MAP is enough. Put N on in the spring, please
  • Cruiser on wheat seed? Perhaps if you have a lot of aphids and a heavy barley yellow dwarf issue or a white grub issue. But for everyone else, it’s not required. Maybe after pasture with high wireworm pressure
  • Lots of finishing hog manure: not more than 50 lb of actual nitrate N, so be careful with the rate and take care of that wheat
  • 2, 4-D ahead of wheat must be the ester formulation
  • K and MAP in the fall. Potash doesn’t have the same environmental implications of other nutrients, drive on
  • Potassium chloride could be a benefit in the spring
  • MAP/Phosphorus — we should not be broadcasting, especially in the fall. It’s always best in a zone or band


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