Wheat Pete's Word, March 29: Seeing Green, Tenacious Wheat, and Replacing P and K


Fresh off the 100th episode of Wheat Pete’s Word, the questions are pouring in, as are the all-in-good-fun “Just how old are you, Peter Johnson?” comments.

In this week’s word, we’re talking soil nutrients in snirt (soil/dirt mix), why you shouldn’t worry about brown-leaved wheat just yet, why geese are terrible creatures, when we can expect alfalfa green-up, and whether or not ice-free Great Lakes are an indication of a hot, hot summer.

From when to tissue test, to why hay ground needs spring sulphur, to whether or not you should pattern agronomic decisions off of Randy Dowdy, Johnson’s last Word for March is right full of great answers.

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].


  • Question about the high organic matter content of snirt (snow/dirt), could it be leaf litter? Johnson says no, because visible OM is removed before the test. So, yes, it’s that bad! #keepsoilhome
  • Early seeded wheat is the way to go, sure, but what about all those frozen dead leaves you see? Will there be enough energy to re-grow? The answer: Yes! Even on plants where older/fall leaves are mowed off by filthy geese!
  • We didn’t see much ice on the Great Lakes this winter? Does this bode well for a warm spring and hot summer?
  • When can we expect to see alfalfa green up? Established crops need 12.5 degrees C forthree days to really break dormancy and get growing. Be patient. And for those wondering about frost seeded alfalfa, and some confusion about when it will and will not grow — the answer is it WILL work, so long as you’re not over-seeding established alfalfa
  • Ontario hay land needs sulphur! If you didn’t apply it in the fall (about 50 lb/acre of elemental sulphur) then you need to get about 20 lb of sulphate on in the spring/ your can put through a single disk opener …row width? 7.5″ rows…200lb salt injuryCan cover crops replace having to replace P and K? They can make the nutrients cycle faster — so we can get more available,but itdoesn’t MAKE more Phos…you have to replace what you take.
  • What’s the highest possible rate of MAP/MESZ your can put through a single disk opener  for wheat? Well, we need to make some assumptions and also think about soil type and moisture levels
  • Can cover crops replace having to add phosphorus and potassium? Nope! Cover crops can make nutrients cycle faster, so we may have more available, but they don’t MAKE more nutrients beyond added crop residue totals. You have to replace what you take.
  • Should you be putting down liquid fertilizer on each side of the corn row? Yes, Randy Dowdy out of the U.S. saw a 31 bu/ac advantage, but remember he’s farming under irrigation and on sand, so results aren’t always going to translate
  • Thinking of tissue testing to better match plant nutrient needs? Timing is critical!


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Wheat Pete's Word (view all)Season 3 (2017) Episode 39

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