Wheat Pete's Word, Mar 11: The clover cut choice, N decisions on wheat, and establishing alfalfa


Wheat Pete’s Word host Peter Johnson is a lot of things — dynamic and opinionated for starters — but he’s also rather humble. This episode marks 250 episodes of this podcast and he’s likely not going to make a big deal of it, but the rest of the RealAgriculture team is!

In this 250th episode, get answers to the tough early-N-on-wheat questions, clarity on the double- vs. single-cut clover choice, and a break down of alfalfa establishment options (and one big no-no).

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 will Wheat Pete be? Monday, the 16th he’s at Ridgetown Ont., then off to Mervin Sask., at Warrington Agrodynamic, and on to Spiritwood’s Cavalier Agro on Thursday.
  • Maple sap is running, and it’s excellent so far! And the idea is that a good syrup run equals an excellent growing season. Did that
  • In the field, frost seeding barley in parts of Ontario is happening. Spring wheat and oats going on, too.
  • Nature Nut Nick says he’s having trouble getting seed for frost seeding. WHAT?!
  • Does early planting mean more straw? Yes. And it’s an ever-increasing valuable part of spring cereal and cereal production.
  • Red clover is going down, which is good. But some N, too. Is it too early? Possibly.
  • The winter wheat crop looks great. So far. Of course, we’re into our freeze-thaw spring trend in Ontario, and that can kill a crop.
  • In some areas, some white root growth on oats has been observed already.
  • The tale of two (or three?) wheat crops. Early seeded on the unseeded ground or prevent plan acres. It’s almost too big. Then the “normal” window is very few acres. Then, typical late-planted wheat.
  • Do you choose single vs. double cut clover? It all depends on which wheat crop you have.
  • The nitrogen question: get out in the field, don’t just watch from the road. On 7.5″ spacing, you. Should have 36 stems per foot of row right now. If it’s the late-planted crop, with only about 20 plants, no tillers, you want to stimulate that crop to tiller. If it’s too big or up to 45 stems, do not put that N on, please. Risk of loss is too high on that early wheat, but get that red clover on, no matter first or second cut.
  • If you are putting those 50 pounds on that late wheat, don’t worry about stabilizing that N at this point in time. You want it available now.
  • Sulphur questions: yes, now is fine, because we’re not going to lose it. So, feel free to put it on with the N.
  • What about alfalfa? If you’re out there and scouting, look at that alfalfa, it has high S demands, and we don’t get it out of the atmosphere anymore. In the spring, make sure you’re using sulphate sulphur this time of year. Potassium applied in an S-deficient field could actually reduce yield.
  • P.S. alfalfa pulls 15 pounds of phosphorus and 50 pounds of potash per tonne from the soil
  • Mowing oats to even out maturity? The old-timers say they used to do it to get rid of those stage-y fields. But think about it — geese feeding damage knocks back the crop, and that’s because the crop loses solar panel and has to re-grow.
  • If you want a great alfalfa crop, do not under-seed it with a spring cereal crop. IF you do, you MUST take the cereal crop as a forage, not taken to grain.
  • Mixed grain after mixed grain with an oat cover crop. Ugh, no, just direct seed the alfalfa.
  • Wheat in 2019, oat cover crop, going to direct seed alfalfa this spring — you should have sprayed out the crop last fall. Volunteers are not good. If you can, spray this spring and get in there as soon as possible.
  • Planter vs. drill comparison for 15″ row white beans? Planter, planter, planter. Downforce, accuracy, more precise placement.

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