Wheat Pete's Word, Feb 26: Traveling corn stalks, coffee shop talk, and a photo caption ask

While eastern Ontario is expected up to 50 cm of snow over the next few days, other parts of the province are starting to tap maple trees and get the frost-seeding equipment ready. It may be the last week of February, but there’s some serious spring fever happening all over the country!

In the west, that brings out questions about when it’s too early to seed (oh hey there, Coffee Shop Talk), and if you can use water from drainage tile in saline areas as an irrigation source. In this edition of Wheat Pete’s Word, host Peter Johnson also throws out a challenge — what’s the best photo caption you can think of to best explain to urbanites how your crop is helping the environment?

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]

SUMMARY

  • Where in the world will Wheat Pete be? He’s in Ontario all week! March 3: Heartland Region SCIA at Listowel; March 5 in the morning at the Tomato Growers at Chatham, and at the Potato Growers event in Guelph that afternoon (THEN a dinner theatre performance that night at Embro!); and March 6th at Western Fair Farm Show at London.
  • Kindersley, Sask., three wise men say if you plant cereals before May 1, it’s a fool’s errand. Nope! Frost seeding can and does work. Try it! Ontario has had a relatively mild winter, snow is starting to go, and that means frost seed timing is on deck
  • Brian Beres’ work supports this. Zero celcius, no yield penalty. The earlier you can seed, the higher the yield potential
  • Maple sap is starting to run, too
  • Last week quite a bit of corn got brought in, and you know what, the yield is maybe not as bad as it could have been given the year and conditions
  • The corn crop is also coming off under 20% moisture coming out of the field
  • Some grade improvements due to test weight. It’s all about starch density.
  • The corn did stand, for the most part, but there was certainly yield loss. And the snow belt didn’t get as much snow as average — so don’t start thinking leaving corn out should be the plan!
  • Following up on Twitter discussions about the movement of residue. Especially corn stalks moving in rivers, plugging up ditches. Probably using a chopping corn head, and means you’re probably a tillage farmer. And residue is loose and floats and get big piles, then what — burn? All bad. Maybe it’s time to move away from chopping corn.
  • What’s the value of corn stalks in the spring? In the fall, a penny a pound, but in spring, most of the nutrients have leached out. BUT there’s certainly organic matter (carbon) there. Are you giving it away? Maybe two to three cents a pound, but can you get them out of the field without beating up your soil? Compaction action, baby
  • A caller saw a high-speed disc with 5″ spacing going 6″ deep out of Australia — what do you think? The least amount of tillage you can do, the better. But if you are going to work the ground, remember that most erosion happens in the winter. Can a high-speed disc mean you move all your tillage to the spring? Well, then maybe that is worth it. Make it black in the fall = worse than moldboard plow.
  • Are we showing our customers what they care about? When we share photos and posts, we need to explain to our urban counterparts how each crop serves them beyond just being a crop. Flowering crops feed bees, and pasture feeds the soil! Share that. We need our customers to know.
  • It matters because public pushback means we’re losing access to registered pesticide options.
  • Drainage — can I use drainage tile to sub-irrigate out of saline areas? The size of the retention pond would have to be huge also, if you’re not diluting it with clean water, not worth it.
  • Remember, lateral water flow is what keeps the tile worth it — wider spacing on sandy soil can make sense IF there’s not compaction.

 

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