Wheat Pete’s Word, Oct 24: Chilly weed control, witch’s hat corn, and mycotoxin mayhem

When you don’t have something nice to say you’re supposed to say nothing at all, but if you’ve ever met Peter ‘Wheat Pete’ Johnson you already know that’s not his style. Besides, the Ontario corn crop is such a mess there’s no way to NOT talk about it.

This week’s Wheat Pete’s Word isn’t all about corn, but it’s mostly about corn, specifically: the risk of leaving it in the field, why combine adjustments matter so much, why you have to call Agricorp, and, if this crop is a write-off, what your options are for destroying it.

Have a question you’d like Johnson to address? Or some yield results to send in? Leave him a message at 1-888-746-3311, send him a tweet (@wheatpete), or email him at [email protected]


  • Want 20 more corn bushels per acre? Plant wheat in rotation. (corn, soy, wheat vs. corn/soy)
  • Is there a human health risk to harvesting corn high in mycotoxins? Yes! Please be careful. Dust masks are non-negotiable. Be safe, make sure your mask fits. High toxin corn is a risk, absolutely.
  • Everyone is looking for a silver bullet on this mycotoxin issue. There are absolutely some differences within hybrids, but honestly, there is no perfect way to have dealt with this. But what can we learn? Hybrids, planting date, weather, fungicide use, etc. (Video on those late emergers, here)
  • Call Agricorp and report corn damage and talk to your adjustor — it’s changing daily. Should have a feature sheet shortly.
  • Nature Nut Nick, please don’t let anyone destroy this crop! Find a market. Elevators are trying, Nick. But any use of this crop comes with issues — like byproducts of ethanol production being too high in vomitoxin or toxic fumes in using it for heating. It will take time to sort out where all of this corn goes.
  • Can I hand-shell to gauge toxin levels? Hand-shelling is not as good, but it’ll get you a sample to send in
  • Example of corn going through the cleaner: 5 ppm going in, 1 ppm coming out. That’s only one data point. If the combine is leaving fines in the field as it should, running it through a cleaner won’t help that much.
  • Will it help to leave the corn out in the cold over winter? Well, anything over 9 degrees C means more toxin develops. As the temps drop, the disease slows down and doesn’t make DON anymore, but it will make zearalenone — which is a different mytoxin and an issue for pigs, especially
  • Lodging in the corn crop — you need stalk integrity if you plan to leave the crop out
  • If I do need to destroy my corn crop, what do I do? Don’t plant corn on corn. Plowing is too much tillage. Running it through the combine? It’s all a little depressing. No great option.
  • Plant wheat! Even at 2 degrees C, the wheat crop is growing. Don’t worry about chilly temps.
  • Late September that looks poor? Wet feet. You can fill in the empty spots.
  • Wheat will take a little longer to emerge when it’s cool. Be patient.
  • Killing perennial sow thistle in the fall? You need to see the leaves of the rosettes first. 1.36 l/ac of high test glyphosate product. Make sure it won’t be colder than -4, -6 over night. Wait at least a week before working the ground
  • 135 round bales after wheat of annual ryegrass and crimson clover. Clover will die, but same idea, get some regrowth and then spray ahead of warm weather….and you might not get ENOUGH warmth.


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