Wheat Pete's Word, April 6: Get Out the Calculator — You've Got Homework


In this week’s Word, Peter Johnson, resident agronomist for RealAgriculture, examines everything from weather impacts to phosphorous management. And yes, you do have some homework this week.

Have a question for Wheat Pete? Call 1-888-746-3311, send him a tweet (@wheatpete), or email him at [email protected].


    • 01:00 Flooding in Ontario. Erosion, erosion, erosion.
    • 01:57 Red squirrels into corn seed — anybody have a suggestion?
    • 02:12 Cover crops – there is more value in wheat in a rotation than all the good you can do with cover crops planted into corn and soybeans. “Cover crops are great, but rotation, rotation, rotation is where it’s at.”
    • 02:40 Corn stalks burn two years ago, soybeans were better there and now wheat is better there as well. How can that be? “Well,” says Johnson, “I really think that you can sometimes see short-term gain for long-term pain.” Mentioned video tweeted by Syngenta:

  • 03:42 Annual ryegrass control: “You need the ryegrass to be actively growing…If you spray glyphosate when the ryegrass is not growing, it’s not going to give you good control.”
    • Treat annual ryegrass with respect — it’s a great cover crop, but it is tough to control if you miss it and don’t do it right.
    • When soybeans are even just preparing to emerge, they can tell whether or not there is competition. Check out: Soybean School: Starting Clean More Critical Than Ever
    • Annual ryegrass is NOT rigid ryegrass.
  • 06:30 Yeah, it got cold the other night. The wheat crop is fine!
  • 07:28 Fertilizer:
      • Get out of the pickup truck. If you do have the 50, 60, 80, 100 stems per foot of row or 5, 6, 8, 10 tillers, then you have “big wheat.” Otherwise, get nitrogen on as soon as you can. “It’s more or less just normal timing on that nitrogen.”
      • Amidas (40-0-0-5.5 (S)) versus urea + ammonium sulphate.
      • Multiple nitrogen applications on soft wheat versus hard wheat. “On hard wheat, you definitely need to split applications…On soft wheat, we don’t want high protein, so that split-nitrogen application, we want to make sure it’s in time, that almost all of it goes to yield.”
      • Is 50-70% of the nitrogen we apply really lost to the environment? “It’s not that high. I think most studies would say 20-30%.”
      • Whether it’s nitrogen or phosphorous, we have to get better on fertility management.
      • 12:22 Homework! More on phosphorous management — how much are you taking off? Go over three years in your history, calculate how much phosphorous you’ve taken off and compare it to how much you’ve applied. Is your phosphorous balance sheet in the red?

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