Wheat Pete’s Word, April 17: Straw-sanity, whacky wheat, winter canola, and crab grass control

What’s yellow, baled, and wanted all over? Straw of course!

The pretty sad wheat crop in Ontario has many farmers asking, “what’s straw worth?” and, “which cereal crop will give me the most?” Host Peter ‘Wheat Pete’ Johnson tackles that question and so much more in this week’s Wheat Pete’s Word. Hear more about straw yields, MAP with soybeans, crab grass control in alfalfa, and phosphorus loss below.


  • The maple sap is coming in super sweet this spring. What happened? Well, a maple is a perennial crop. Think about last year’s corn and soybean crop being high yielders — that maple tree did lots of growing last year too, and pumped more energy into the root system and that is now coming back out as sugar in the sap.
  • Whoa! What is going on with straw prices? It’s straw-insanity! 6.5 foot bales went for $82 a bale at auction. Are we really going to be that short of straw?
  • There is talk of farmers getting 8,9, and even 10 cents in the swath. Wow. If someone offers you $0.08/pound or more in the swath, lock it in. Western Canada…send it here? That’s maybe where the economics play out.
  • That said, if you need straw, does it pay to grow your own? There are some with 200+ bushel acre corn ground going into oats, because the straw is needed
  • Selling straw might be a deal breaker for less than stellar wheat — tips the math in its favour. So keep that in mind when scouting fields.
  • Wheat performance trials are looking hurt, too. We’ll see. Heavy clays have not been kind to wheat.
  • On the straw side, we see 5 to 5.7 tonnes/hectare of grain (108 bu/ac) gives 3 to 3.5 tonnes/hc of straw with decent yields. But performance trials aren’t planted as early as possible, so you could see higher straw yields on your fields, but you have to start somewhere with estimates.
  • Should we plant spring wheat? Barley? Oats? if we’re talking straw. Spring wheat gives you more pounds, actually. But not sure if oat crop sees a fungicide in any of the trials done, so that could really increase tonnage.
  • Questions on filling holes in winter wheat? Listen to past episodes!
  • What’s going to happen with wheat prices if so many acres of wheat come out? Easy now. 2018 planting was 900,000 acres. Ontario domestic grind is about 570,000 tonnes. 400,000 metric tonnes go “local” to the U.S. So that’s about a million tonnes, or 72 bushel/acre average. We can do better than that, so don’t expect a shortage just yet. We’d have to take out nearly 40-50 per cent of TOTAL acres.
  • Poor winter wheat field question: can I seed spring wheat into the winter wheat crop, but burn off the winter crop before the spring comes up? You’ll take a yield hit. Just plan for feed wheat instead and plant the spring wheat in anyway.
  • A famers frost seeded spring wheat and not is not happy yet… hey! it’s an experiment! Oats are just starting to emerge (miles ahead of oats still in the shed) … we’re about to get 9 days of rain. Wheat Pete think it’s going to come on yet!
  • Spring into winter… will it mature at the same time? Nope. Have hogs? Feed it! And don’t worry
  • Winter canola: ADM Windsor is asking for more winter canola, to feed the Windsor crush plant, but recommendation is to plant on heavy soils. (Call Eric Page! Listen here). Nope, keep it on lighter land. It doesn’t like wet feet.
  • MAP with soybean: in the Ottawa Valley, it’s been working. Which, hey, don’t argue with success. But do some trials vs broadcast and share results, please. Do strips before the whole field, yeah?
  • Worries that fertilizer from last fall is lost? Great question. 4R discussion:the field was zone sampled, then broadcast P in September. It likely adhered to soil particles. But late Oct or Nov? application You may have lost some to surface movement, maybe 2%, but that’s still an environmental risk
  • Corn on corn with ruts: should I chisel plow vs heavy disc. It depends on soil type, a sandy loam, no worries, but tougher soil may need a light/finishing disc to pull in and level ruts, and then go in after this year’s corn crop to really break them up. Not too much action on heavy soils in the spring or you run the risk of plow pan and compaction.
  • Crabgrass in new seeded alfalfa last year — will that be an issue this year? Likely not. It set seed last year, maybe, but a good competitive forage crop won’t leave much room for it this year.

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