Wheat Pete's Word, March 4: Red clover, soil health, and dipping in to the fertility bank


Welcome to March, which seems to be coming in like a lamb — we’ll have to see if the “out like a lion” holds true!

March also means maple syrup, frost seeding, red clover applications on the wheat fields, and starting to nail down crop rotations and fertilizer rates. With many feeling the cash flow pinch this spring, many are asking about dialing back fertilizer rates. Is it ever a good idea? Host Peter Johnson tackles that and more on this week’s Wheat Pete’s Word.

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? Bad Axe, Michigan on Monday, March 9, and PEI Potato meetings Thursday and Friday, March 12 and 13.
  • Before the Plate movie is out! This Ontario movie is all about one dinner plate, one restaurant, and the story of how all the ingredients made it to the plate. It’s on iTunes and Google Play. Check it out!
  • Soil health events are coming up next week: March 10 at Kemptville, Ont., and March 11 at Cobourg, Ont. There will be speakers on earthworms, soil health, drainage, and more! Check them out.
  • Red clover is going on in parts of Ontario. Yahoo! Can’t beat the benefits, but if you have trouble establishing a clover crop, skip it and put a cover crop on the following wheat.
  • Have you got a Will and Power of Attorney — it is SO important for everyone, but essential for farming families. It makes a great gift. Seriously.
  • A question from Turkey: cold damage on wheat — what can we expect for recovery?
  • There will be no DON comparison data today for corn 2019. The trial was set up, similar to 2018, but the data is too inconsistent to release.
  • Time to talk fertility! When money is tight, should you cut fertility rates? Well, it’s all about what’s already in the bank and what you plan to grow. Looking just at P and K, wheat needs that phos, and corn is more responsive to K than you might think (on low test soils). The key is, if you have high soil nutrient values, you can draw them down, but on low soil test (or no soil test), it will cost you!
  • Are you looking for more on phosphorus and potassium research? Check out the background and more discussion here.
  • Root growth in wet vs. dry conditions, how can this be? Looking at some photos regarding starter phos on wheat seed vs. not — if the weather turns dry, can starter fertilizer hurt you? Interesting thought process. Could it be N burn impacting root proliferation?
  • Sensitivity of fertilizer in-furrow with soybean? Soil moisture makes a difference, for sure. High risk, low reward. More reading on in-furrow rates of fertilizer for soybean, here.

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