Wheat Pete's Word, April 29: Dastardly dandelions, rotten rotation, and terrible, terrible timothy


This week’s Wheat Pete’s Word has got some good news, some good ideas, and finally a discussion on just how terrible timothy really is as a forage option.

Host Peter Johnson answers questions on a crop’s first drink of water, how much starter fertilizer you can pack into strip-till strips, and reminds growers that armyworm will be on the move soon and will go after your best wheat fields first. Listen on!

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].


  • Keep up the social distancing! But make sure to keep in touch over the phone and stay connected.
  • Ray is all done #plant20, except soybeans. Corn is in many areas, too. Is it too early?
  • Temperature swings are still a bit tough on some crops, for sure. Even sugar beets that are very cold-tolerant have had to be re-planted because they put up cotyledons below ground. That can happen.
  • Will a cold drink of water hurt spring seeded barley or wheat like it does on corn or soybeans? Nope, they are a base 0 vs. base 10 crop (like corn)
  • Dandelions are flowering in many areas of Ontario. What does that mean? It’s a heads up that perennials are going to be tougher to kill from here on out if you haven’t done any burndown.
  • Dandelions are big yield robbers, too. One farmer shares the fall out of not controlling dandelion the year previously.
  • There are some insect and pest alerts to be aware of. Be on the lookout for black cutworm on newly planted crops, and don’t put off beginning to scout for armyworm in the wheat crop. Prioritize your best fields, because the worms do.
  • Stripe rust is stirring to the south. A few big thunderstorms could bring it north. Be aware.
  • Tank mixing fertilizers: ATS, 10-34-0, et al…does mixing order matter? Heck, yes. A jar test is a simple way to check, but add ATS last and agitate and get it sprayed, don’t let it sit (Check out more on that, here)
  • What’s so terrible about timothy? It is the grass with the least re-growth. Why in the heck are you going to grow it with alfalfa? The timing is way off, and you won’t get it to re-grow in season. Try something else, hay growers. Bromes, orchard grass, anything but timothy!
  • Emergency forage options: most of the alfalfa crop has wintered OK, but a few spots need touch-ups. Cereal rye as forage can work, but don’t grow corn after it, for sure. Sorghum sudangrass loves heat, will grow quickly, and is a good option, but it’s the antagonist for winter wheat. Keep that in mind.
  • Rotten rotation fall out — in the north, farmers are switching out corn and putting those acres into spring cereals, and that’s good. Down into the south, southwest, deep south, we’re in an oversupply for corn, and one farmer says right now beans win over the corn to the tune of $100/acre. But, ALERT ALERT ALERT via Dr. Dave Hooker (see tweet below), more soybeans in rotation hurt soybean yield and subsequent crops, too. Second-year soybeans lose 7 to 9 bushels per acre in soy/soy, vs. a corn/soy/wheat rotation. And you lose soil organic matter, too.
  • Fertilizer in strip-till question: How much N and K can I put in the strip without seed burn? Well, we’ve learned a strip-tiller is not a strip-tiller, there are so many variations — height differences in the delivery of fertilizer, or the tube in front or behind the coulters, for example. How much can you put in? It all comes down to the distribution of that fertilizer in that strip. Without that proper distribution, it’s a band of hot, hot fertilizer that’s going to burn that seed.

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