Wheat Pete's Word, Jan 25: Wheat Dormancy, Peaola, and Traveling N


Will bare fields and warm weather cause wheat to break dormancy? And if so, could we be looking at a wheat price rally for 2017?

That’s where we start with Wheat Pete’s Word, and from there Peter Johnson takes us on a wild agronomy ride that covers strip-tilling dry beans into hay ground, what to do about high humidity and grain storage, what the heck peaola is, and, perhaps most importantly, the WHY you shouldn’t spread manure on snow.

Don’t forget to send Peter your questions and comments! Leave a message at 1-888-746-3311, send him a tweet (@wheatpete), or email him at [email protected].


  • Winter wheat guru Brian Fowler’s research in Saskatchewan has shown winter wheat goes through a two-stage dormancy process — 1st stage dormancy – most dormant stage (shorter days, plus cool temps) winter hardiness -20 degrees; 2nd stage dormancy – will only withstand about -9 at the crown, from Feb 1 onward.
  • Will we see a bump in prices because it’s been warm in the U.S. wheat area? Most cold temp injury is at pollination. Worse problem: water sitting on wheat crop, as it is in some parts of Ontario right now.
  • Manure on snow — it’s done on frozen ground in Alberta, but think it through. When that snow melts, it becomes liquid and moves. Can you guarantee your snow melt won’t move and pond or move off field? That equals nutrient concentration. So much for equal distribution. It doesn’t. Then what? Too high P, too low N? JUST STOP.
  • Bincast/humidistat control on aeration fan — since December 1 in Ontario, almost no good days to aerate based on relative humidity. Probably need to be able to override humidistat when cold.
  • Spring oats for haylage/oatlage — do you need a fungicide? Depends on your varieties (resistance) and how early you’re going to harvest.
  • Fababeans — always look at new crops, but go slow. Fabas are big N-fixers.
  • Strip-tilling 30-inch row edibles into hay ground. Will it work? Soil is likely dry and compacted. Need good root system.
  • Red clover research for Ontario looking at strategy for managing through drought — double cut clover seems to tolerate a moderate drought better, but in severe drought, single cut can recover better (no real management tips yet on that research).
  • Peaola — Scott Chalmers, Manitoba Agriculture, has done a fair bit of work on peas and canola seeded together (intercrop), showing a 30% yield boost with ZERO N application. That’s 130% yield vs monocropped. In that research, N rate determines the yield. As soon as you add N, you up the percentage of canola and decrease peas, and overall yield drops. Problem is price determines profit. So while overall yield can be higher higher, is it worth more? (Also need to consider herbicides, sorting at harvest) Less shatter is a cool side effect. Seeded at 3 lbs canola, 110 lb pea seed rate. (Watch a Canola School video with Chalmers on intercropping peas and canola here.)
  • Row width discussion: 7.5″ corn — how does that make sense? It’s all about light interception! Capturing sunlight early on. 12″ wheat — if you can see soil between the rows, you’re not getting 100% yield.

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