Wheat Pete's Word, Feb. 13: Ancient genes, wheat removal rates, corn starter, and row width decisions


On this week’s episode of Wheat Pete’s Word, learn about making the call on not just starter fertilizer rates for corn (and maybe soybeans) but also on what product differences to consider when deciding on rates and placement.

Host, Peter ‘Wheat Pete’ Johnson also shares some insight on plant breeding advancements overseas, how a soil test is cheap insurance, and why, yes, even potash just needs to stay in the shed until spring.

And listen below to find out on what topic Johnson says: “Do the plots — that’s the only way to know!”

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].


  • We’re celebrating 10 years of RealAgriculture! Did you know, total knowledge doubles every 12 hours? Got to keep learning to keep up!
  • Speaking of, TechTour LIVE runs for a week in March out west. Find out more here.
  • Also, about $204 million is inherited every day and that trend is set to continue. Is your farm ready?
  • Question from a listener: Why don’t you make the Word longer? No way, man. Trying to keep it to 15 minutes, but always do 17 because, hey, Pete likes to talk.
  • Ellen Sparry of C&M Seeds, shared that the John Innes Centre in England announced some exciting news this week about how wheat determines head and floret structure and it actually comes from a corn gene from way back in the day. Neat!
  • The centre is also working on genetically modified wheat that codes for iron fortification — grain is typically low in iron (humans with low iron are anemic). Biofortification is a great use of plant breeding technology
  • We HAVE to have soil test. How can you justify paying $20,000 an acre for land but not pay a small fee to know the nutrient value of that land?
  • Fertilizer on frozen ground is still happening. What if it’s just potash? Even if that’s the case, what are you saving, truly, vs the risk of loss or off-site movement. Just unacceptable.
  • Nitrogen removal of wheat — beware the online calculator that doesn’t ask about protein content or adjust for it. Also, remember that removal is what comes off the field: if you don’t bale off the straw, those nutrients cycle through. 10% protein = 1 pound per bushel of grain removed, 12% = 1.2 pounds per bushel of grain and so on. Uptake is not removal.
  • Corn starter fertilizer options: ammonium sulphate plus urea or Amidas product? It’s a premium product, with half elemental S, half immediately available and each granule contains both N and S. Is it worth the premium? Do your own trials, but if uniform distribution of AMS +urea is an issue, the premium may be worth it
  • Liquid starter on soybeans — will it burn? It really depends on row width. 30″ row vs 7.5″ rows (3-4 gallons is ok at narrow rows, but at wider rows, likely not, and you’re probably capped closer to 2 gallons). Remember soybeans are 4x more susceptible to salt burn for seed placed fertilizer. You could also run in to application issues at very low volumes, so may need to bump water rates
  • 30″ beans vs 15″ beans — you generally gain 3-4 bushels in yield as you narrow rows, but surprisingly you won’t gain much from 2×2 band, vs broadcast P and K. Target 140,000 seeds/acre in 30″ rows, but weed control is going to be much tougher. Do the plots! That’s the only way to tell!

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Wheat Pete's Word (view all)Season 5 (2019) Episode 44

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