Wheat Pete's Word, Oct 16: Best bets on manure application timing, cover crop questions, and fall fertility


If you can’t put manure on in the late fall, and you don’t want to put it on in the spring because of compaction, when CAN you put it?

Peter “Wheat Pete” Johnson has the answer to that question and many more in this week’s instalment of Wheat Pete’s Word. From the terrible weather out west, to the end of the growing season here in Ontario, and on to many, many cover crop queries for this fall, Johnson has your answers below. Listen now, or download it for later on your favourite podcast app! (links at the bottom of the post)

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 1-844-540-2014, send him a tweet (@wheatpete), or email him at [email protected]


  • It’s World Food Day! Maybe it’s time to Thank a Researcher….
  • To plow or not to plow, that is the elementary question. It’s a complicated question, young one — Peter will call you back.
  • It’s a wet Wednesday here in Ontario, and Johnson just needed one more hour to finish up soybeans. The new-to-Pete 9500 combine is working well, thanks for asking.
  • Western Canada is suffering terribly with heavy, wet snow. Northern states were hard hit by snow, as well. There’s still plenty of crops left out yet to be harvested. Be ready to throw the clock out and dry that grain, when the time comes.
  • Frost has hit more of Ontario, but still not the entire province. But does frost matter at this point? Three or four nights below 10 to 12 Celsius basically means this corn crop is shut down. Most of it is far enough along that it will be OK.
  • One caller says for all that whining about a late, late spring, the calendar trumps soil conditions, and things turned out not so bad, Peter. Yes, well.
  • Soybeans planted on June 24th yielded about 60 bushels/acre. That’s impressive.
  • Wheat planting in Ontario is going like stink! We may break a million acres of wheat this year, for the first time in a long time. Great job, Ontario. Some even quit combining soybeans to get wheat in on time/early. Let’s grow great wheat.
  • Most of the corn was three-quarter milk line or a little better when this latest frost hit. This will impact test weight, but plenty in western Ontario will likely make Grade 2. Eastern Ontario is not so lucky and neither is the Maritimes, unfortunately.
  • Corn silage with frosted top few leaves, will this have a big impact on silage yield or moisture? It won’t likely impact quality. What about dry down? You lose about 3 points of moisture per week, because the translocation is moving energy into the kernel, then it’s up to the weather. The frosted few leaves won’t impact it that much if it’s just the top few leaves.
  • How much does dew make to whole plant moisture in silage? A heavy due is equivalent to about 60 gallons of water per acre. Really only a drop in the bucket when you’re harvesting whole plants. Drive on.
  • Wheat planted with the corn planter achieves pretty perfect seed placement. Question: how low can I go from a seed-rate standpoint? You need tillers, so you don’t want to cut back too far. Do plots!
  • Q: I can’t get the fertilizer applicator over as quick as I’d like and need to get the wheat in — am I OK to broadcast phosphorus after the wheat goes in? Fall broadcast is not ideal, no, but if it’s the only way to get it done, then you do it, because the days are getting tight to get the crop in.
  • Potash in the fall would only be to maintain soil test level, and probably not the best time. And no sulphur in the fall, either, for wheat.
  • Field bindweed ahead of wheat. Use 2, 4-D? NO. Not ahead of wheat. (See below).
  • A caller has cereal rye that will be strip-tilled to put corn into. Can you spray for bindweed or perennials? Bindweed is asleep, now. Canada thistle should get some good control. Could use Distinct, with some caution that it could impact the cereal rye (14% yield hit to winter wheat). In a cover crop situation, I think you’re OK.
  • Another caller has cereal rye and hairy vetch that they want to take forage off of next spring. Can they take out weeds with Roundup and Eragon? Eragon will kill the vetch, so, no.
  • Oats are getting large — get them sprayed! They are getting tall. Take them out at knee high or a little higher. Consider it a pre-harvest app, can still harvest in a few weeks. Even then you may have to wrap the bales.
  • If I can’t spread manure in the fall because of run-off risk, but a farmer says they can’t do it in the spring because of compaction, then when SHOULD you spread? Well, is it liquid or dry? Dry should go on after cereal harvest. Liquid, after first cut on to hay ground.

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