Wheat Pete's Word, January 23: DDG risks, profits by soil zone, and building yield through genome tweaks


How far have we come in 30 years of plant breeding and agronomic knowledge? Well, in this edition of Wheat Pete’s Word, host Peter Johnson reflects back on corn and soybean yield averages for Ontario and the gains may surprise you. What about wheat? Well, you’ll have to listen to find out if we’ve made the same gains there…

Also in this episode, western Canadian farmers want Wheat Pete to explain why wheat is bottom of the barrel for profitability, and want more details on frost seeding cereals, especially durum.

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].


  • Do us a favour, please, do NOT let the kids play in the DDGs! DON (a known carcinogen) is higher in dust and DDGs than in the corn itself
  • Upcoming learning opportunities: FarmTech at Edmonton, Pete will there along with Shaun, Jess, and Jay of the RealAgriculture team. Stop in and say hello.
  • Look how far we’ve come in corn and soy! Rear view to warp drive — 1990 Elora corn performance trials, the average was 117 bu/ac with a max yield of 140 bu/ac. In 2016, the same site averaged 226 bu/ac, with a max of 255 bu/ac. Wow! In 25 years, we’ve essentially doubled the corn yield in this province. Last 10 years for corn has seen a 19% yield improvement. Soybeans have seen the same 19% too! What about wheat? Well…wheat has only a 10% improvement
  • Where does the yield come from? It’s nearly all about the breeding effort — dollars and attention for genetics come from buying certified seed. If you do, you support those programs that give you the varieties and hybrids that work
  • Barley, oats, and wheat are C3 Plants — and that limits their yeild. Could we put C4 pathways into the C3 plants? There’s some really neat genetic tweaks that are possible that could adjust how plants adapt to increasing temps and bump yields significantly. Amazing stuff
  • Cloud-based, high-throughput RNA sequencing. The computing power is astounding. We now know that stripe rust infects through stomata — and for some reason some plants close off stomata when rust shows up. Can we replicate this?
  • Twitter talk: A grower shared the relative profitably of different crops in the grey soil zone of Western Canada and wheat is at the bottom — BUT no one talked about the value of rotation….you can add 10% yield simply by sticking to a solid rotation, Wheat Pete says
  • Frost seeding in Alberta: Check out the talk here, can it work for durum wheat. The farmer says if they could get durum done and out of the way, imagine how much time that frees up in the spring! Can it work in December? Think about putting seed into dry storage, so frozen soil and you don’t want it to imbibe water and germinate — because that’s all bad. Some have done it in March, and it meant getting canola in earlier, and higher yields. Variety has a significant impact on the success. Brian Beres did some work on that
  • A farmer says they tried frost seeding in late 2017, one day prior to the cold coming in, and in the spring, it just didn’t work. And that’s the key point — you don’t want it to go in to too warm of soil. You don’t want it to suck up any water, especially ahead of the cold
  • Can you swap spring oats for winter wheat you didn’t get in in 2018? A hog farmer with manure needs the ground to spread in late summer. Can they frost seed oats? Yes, but you MUST pick a variety that has good crown rust tolerance, because it’s going to happen. Check GoCereals.ca. Do oats respond to N like wheat? On oats, 90 lb of N in split app with fungicide is by far the highest yielding approach. Risk of lodging is lower on heavy clays. Don’t worry as much about sulphur, but it does need some
  • Again, a question on manure. Neighbour has stockpiled turkey manure on soybean stubble…and as soon as the ground is frozen, out they go and spread. Just stop already
  • Need to put some cattle manure ahead of soybeans — what’s the risk? Stay at about 50 pounds per acre of N

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