Wheat Pete's Word, Dec 11: Soil sampling strategies, the importance of weed ID, and road safety


Here we are, just a few weeks from the holidays and the end of the calendar year, and many farmers are using every last bit of daylight to get the crop harvested and dried, if they can.

When you’re pushing long hours in less than ideal conditions, sometimes safety gets thrown out the window, and really, it just can’t. In this week’s Wheat Pete’s Word, host Peter Johnson is talking safety in the farm yard and on the roads. A little change might save your life, and that’s absolutely worth ‘a little change’. From there, Johnson answers some key questions on soil sampling, weed control, and more.

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].


  • Hey, Ontario: You MUST report yields to Agricorp by December 15, whether you are done harvest or not.
  • We need to put safety first, second, and third. Here’s the recap of things to think about:
    • With snow and freezing rain the roads are slippery, so that means so are elevator legs and ladders — use your climbing harness!
    • Wet, cold corn freezes in odd shapes in bins, too. It can create real risky situations. Please assess the risk, don’t work alone. Take precautions, too.
    • Use your seatbelt in the tractor. As annoying as it might seem, because yes, you are at risk.
    • Loading on the road? Think about grain piles, fines, or mud! In Perth County the police closed a road because a farmer had dragged too much mud on it to maintain safe conditions.
    • If loading on the road, look both ways, use lights, use caution — it 100% can be our fault if we’re taking up the entire road or not watching where we are going with large, slow equipment.
    • Do NOT leave piles or messes. Clean up after yourself. Carry a shovel. You may not dump on gravel roads either! We simply have to do better.
    • We need to take our public responsibility seriously, and our safety, too.
  • Oh, and! Wheat Pete was wrong. Simplicity is not effective on bluegrass, says Dr. Francois Tardiff. Where there was some efficacy it was actually on cheatgrass, and downy brome — it wasn’t actually bluegrass. What should you do with winter wheat that has bluegrass? Use Focus, pre-plant.
  • Some clarification on using Infinity XF in the winter wheat crop. Yes, you can use it in the fall with two-leaves or more. Good for thistles, but can only use it once in a season/crop.
  • Does ensiling kill weed seeds? If the silage gets hot enough, yes, it will. There’s some pH at play too, but you get heat treatment, then through the gut of a ruminant, and yup, you’ve got dead weed seed. But velvetleaf? Nope, those seeds can survive burning!
  • Plot results: 15 bu/ac more corn following a wheat crop vs corn following a soy crop (one field, but still, this finding is well supported by research).
  • Sulphur on corn, three reps, two varieties, was there a response? It’s the story of field variability, and only one of the two varieties responded.
  • 9 bushel advantage to y-drop N over side-dress N (put on same time, shoulder high corn). What gives? It was extremely dry. N was put in shallow, middle of the row, a few small rains was enough to move y-drop N into the root zone. Pretty cool. But not what we would expect.
  • How does baling off corn stalks vs. not baling off corn stalks impact next year’s n needs? Even without a soil test you know it’s going to change the N available (30 pound N difference — the corn stalks will tie it up during breakdown).
  • You must have a current soil test on every field, from an environmental stand point. But how many and how do I sample? Not grid! Benchmark, soil type, slope location, mark your spots and return to them.  Yield zones and topography. Face of slope, high spots, low spots, at a minimum.
  • What should I test for? NPKS, pH, OM? I’d rather you do more cores/tests per field than a lot of money per test. Test for P and K, for sure, because you’re going to add those (in Ontario). pH is critical, and it’s good to track your OM levels, but focus on more cores vs more nutrients/test.

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