Wheat Pete's Word, Feb 19: Applied research applause, the trouble with too-big plots, and a friendly nematode


If you’ve ever adopted a new way of doing things after attending a field day or conference, do you let the researcher or extension staff know? Sometimes, research can be a rather thankless job, and many researchers don’t hear back on their work being applied on-farm. Peter “Wheat Pete” Johnson came across just such an occurrence this week and decided to let the researchers know. It made their day!

It’s also a great leaping off point for this week’s Wheat Pete’s Word, as the question of making changes and setting up plots and field trials is high on many farmers’ minds. Also in the Word, Johnson answers some questions on the herbicide-like impact of rye, and shares a discovery surrounding a rather helpful nematode.

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].


  • Where in the world will Wheat Pete be? Find him the 26th at the Middlesex Crops Update and Friday, the 28th, at Dunnville Ont., at  Clark Agri Services.
  • An Elgin county farmer isn’t just parking the plow, he’s selling it! Small steps towards soil health and soil improvement matter.
  • Adapting plot research to the field  — a farmer is moving more wheat into rotation for the benefit of the following corn and soy crops. More crops in the rotation is better! It’s tested and true. It works. So Pete sent Drs. Bill Deen and Dave Hooker a note to tip the hat to them. Applied research matters and we need to share that more
  • Question on success of frost seeding spring wheat in Chatham-Kent. Missed out on winter wheat window so can I frost seed spring wheat? Well, hang on, let’s think about where you are. Frost seeded spring wheat is basically like late seeded winter wheat in your area (lower yield potential)
  • What about frost seeding durum wheat in Saskatchewan? On a quarter section? Yikes! Yes, try it, but not on a quarter section! (that’s 160 acres)
  • Frost seeding rye for weed control, will it work, and if I want to set up a trial, how do I do that? Work at the University of Guelph shows that BOA exuded by the roots has herbicidal properties. Now, back to a trial. If you’re frost seeding in March and trying to control Canada fleabane (mare’s tail), will you really get enough growth and enough BOA impact? Likely not. A trial in Iowa looked at 8″-tall rye in 15″ rows and that did not give good enough control (though he didn’t leave a check).
  • Back to that quarter section and durum — leave some areas, or do it in strips of two replications at a minimum, so that data from the trial can be analyzed
  • Work on BOA at the University of Guelph is being done by Ted Vanhie (advisors Drs. Francois Tardif and Clarence Swanton) Also, wheat produces BOA, but not enough.
  • Never plant corn into rye because of this? Well, NOT into green rye, but a dead rye crop should be OK. Strip till the corn into it and it should work.
  • Some work out of the states by Dr. Elson Shields is showing some cool action on corn rootworm…and it’s a nematode! Not 100% control, but essentially equal to Bt genetics in corn hybrids. He’s done the work in several states, by inoculating a field with these nematodes. One inoculation could last as long as 10 years! Which, yay, but it means it’s hard to build a commercial business for a one-and-done application.
  • Unharvested peas in central Saskatchewan, were about 60-70 bu pea per acre and that land is going into canola. What’s the N credit? A: All depends on release rate and date and if that lines up with canola demand, too. Could be as much as 200 pounds, but as little as 15.
  • Do not put your fertilizer 5″ deep in wet soil! Corn sends roots out at 45-degrees, but as long as the fertilizer band is as deep as the seed, the roots will find it. 3″ zone is fine. The more exposed phosphorus granules are to soil, the faster they end up tied up, so a true band is better.
  • Do we need boron in corn? On a sandy soil, low organic matter, or ground without any manure in the history, maybe.

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