Wheat Pete’s Word, Sept 1: Welcome fall, heat unit math, gibberella, and an armyworm alert

September first marks the beginning of meteorological fall, but that doesn’t mean that summer is over. The growing season is still chugging along, and this week’s agronomy update even includes an insect outbreak alert (just when you thought it was safe to put the sprayer away!).

In this episode of Wheat Pete’s Word, host Peter Johnson discusses the risk of western bean cutworm on corn, how far ahead the crop is, why warm nights matter, and if trees really are that hard on crop yield. The answer may surprise you.

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].


  • Spend some time on the phone over $10/bu wheat and a spread from 8 to 10. Pay attention and shop your good wheat around
  • Recently, Dr. Charlie Baldwin passed away. His main research focus was on tree windbreaks. His work indicated that with the first 40 feet of height of the trees into the field you lose yield, but you gain in the next 360 feet into the field, because trees protect the crop
  • This week on Twitter shared images of tree’s effect on corn crop — a windbreak from punishing winds!
  • Over-dry spring, to 12 inches of rain in 4 weeks (end of June to end of July). Then stopped again for August! Are we in trouble with the soybean crop? Maybe
  • Forage production has been great for many areas of Ontario
  • Nature Nut Nick says 2789 CHU up to end of August, from May 1, at Strathroy. Only 60 ahead of last year, but the crop is well ahead of that. Night time temps? Only one in July and one in August below 9 degrees C.
  • We are probably seven to 10 days ahead of average
  • Insect populations are driven by heat. LIVE FAST, DIE YOUNG, #YOLO
  • ALERT! Fall armyworm in Lambton County, Michigan, and Ohio, in numbers like we’ve hardly ever seen before
  • These are fall armyworm, up from the U.S., not true armyworm (those are the spring ones). These are omnivores re: plants, they will eat your soybeans! Oats and cover crops are being devoured
  • It’s all or nothing with these insects. Probably too big to control. Scout those hay crops. You may have to cut to get rid of them.
  • Like true armyworm, they must be smaller than an inch, and spray in the evening, and you’ll have to treat them with Coragen, Delegate, etc. but  likely worth the spray
  • Western bean cutworm update: no insecticide versus treated. WBC in the tip of the ear, and the birds dive-bombed them and they are gone. Only the larvae that burrowed on the sides stayed in. So that’s positive!
  • Observations: gibberella is low in the tip. Cobs have grown through the tip of the husk, but that may decrease humidity and decrease gibb development
  • Gibberella is where the WBC burrowed in the side
  • Silage! It has started. Eastern Ontario had some samples as low as 62 per cent moisture. It’s drier than you think
  • Edible beans dry down quickly with Eragon in the heat of the day
  • Seed corn harvest has started too
  • Winter canola going in
  • Is it too early for winter wheat, winter barley, or others? Too early is less risky (higher risk of snow mould) than planting late. Reduce your seeding rate, if that is the case
  • Dandelions! Get the millet out of the way, heavy rate of glyphosate, because dandelion doesn’t really ever go dormant
  • Other winter annuals and perennials will be more impacted by day length or temperature to stimulate dormancy or germination

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