Wheat Pete's Word, Sept. 18: Wheat planting, the critical harvest period, and dreaded fleabane


If you’re a farmer trying to figure out how to get a handle on fleabane populations, you’re not alone. Last week, it was a top discussion at a grower meeting — Wheat Pete’s Word host Pete Johnson is using that as inspiration to tackle the topic in this week’s podcast.

Listeners will also hear a few corrections from last week, a discussion on map accuracy, and that all-important critical harvest period on alfalfa. Listen now, or download to listen later, offline.

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].


  • Winter wheat is finally going in many areas. It’s late, but not late, late. Optimum dates are from early September onwards. We’ve still got time.
  • Cleanfarms is underway in Ontario until October 1st. Look for drop off points near you.
  • We’re about 300 heat units behind 2018, but 100 ahead of 2017. Some corn fields have plants with zero cobs fully dented. Do we have 30 days to black layer frost-free? It’s going to be tight.
  • Silage, silage, silage: When is the ideal time for harvest? It used to be half milk line, but you want starch. Wait as long as you can, but keep moisture in mind. Three-quarter milk line is likely best, now.
  • Weed control questions from a farmer panel: Number one issue was fleabane. There are options, but you need to plan several years in a row. Think spring, think fall, think tank mixes. Fall spraying can really be so beneficial in the plan.
  • No Infinity FX sprayed in the fall yet, more research needed.
  • How accurate is the wheat planting date map for Ontario? Very! Know your dates. Target your seeding rate accordingly.
  • Wheat after cover crop oats. When do I burn it down? What about after spring barley? What are the risks? Well, shouldn’t see too much contamination with barley seeds (they should germinate and die). Spray the oats, then plant the next day.
  • Get the wheat in! Whatever it takes.
  • Lime and 5,000 gallons of dairy manure ahead of wheat planting? Don’t worry. Drive on.
  • Moving to organic… Do I up my seeding rate because of the lack of a seed treatment? A little yes. But the challenge is more loose smut and common bunt as the greater risk.
  • Do we have real trial data of alfalfa with and without a nurse crop, or are we just going by anecdotes?
  • Critical harvest period for alfalfa is older data (than the winter wheat map) 3 weeks before and after your wheat ideal planting date is the critical harvest period. What you take now borrows from first cut next spring.
  • Nitrogen credit on alfalfa is 100 pounds an acre. Two-thirds of the N is in the root, a third in the top growth. You’ll see a nice bump in corn yield (just like with clover in wheat rotation)
  • 20 tonnes of worm castings is just as good as compost. How do I know if I have enough? Spring or fall, damp soil, not too hot. 5 worms per shovel full. 10″ square, need 20-30 in that area. Want to build worm numbers? Feed them! Use manure, cover crops, leave organic matter. Anything that inverts the soil kills them. Leave the residue.

Looking for the winter wheat planting dates? Check them out here.

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