Wheat Pete's Word, May 20: Yellow wheat, hardy plants, revenge spraying, and a slow return to "normal"


Alfalfa is so cool, it can run ice in its “veins.” Or at least, that’s the best explanation we’ve got for the crop making it through extremely cold weather earlier this month.

In this week’s Wheat Pete’s Word, host Peter Johnson discusses both alfalfa and wheat’s adaptability, swapping corn varieties based on the calendar, inoculating beans, and sulphur and manganese deficiencies popping up. Listen on, or download for later!

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].


  • It’s been a tough go. Getting through the COVID-19 pandemic is no walk in the park, but we are getting through this, “flattening the curve,” and, hey, you could have been born in early 1900 and gone through two world wars, the Dirty 30s, and more
  • Stay safe, be smart, and let’s keep this re-opening going
  • Rain events have been all over the map in Ontario, from non-existent to 3″ to 4″ all at once
  • Heavy clays with a heavy rain are a bad combination
  • It’s May 20th, which means if you’re in 2800 heat unit area (or less) it’s time to switch corn hybrids, 100 heat units per week (for other areas, it’s May 25th. Give ‘er, if the ground is fit!)
  • Is snow while planting a good thing? We’re going to find out. Trials are out there, and share it, please!
  • The cold weather had a limited impact on the wheat and alfalfa crop (fruit crops did not fare as well, unfortunately)
  • How did the crop manage to survive? It’s all about the temps leading up to the really cold weather — both wheat and alfalfa can adapt to colder temps better than a one-time dip to cold
  • Canopy effects at play, too. For comparison, on a warm sunny day, black earth was 25 degrees C vs. a cereal rye crop at soil level was 11 degrees C
  • Some diseases showing up in the wheat field. Scout every field. Powdery mildew and septoria have turned up. With $7 wheat, it’s worth scouting a few times and every field, just in case
  • There is so much sulphur deficiency! Even if you applied S or manure, the cold temps have just not let that S release from the soil. Feed those spots! Can save 5-20 bushels per acre losses.
  • Manganese deficiency is happening too (upper leaves will look pale, and maybe darker green on sprayer tracks because of compaction). Two pounds actual manganese per acre necessary
  • Should you reduce N rates because we didn’t lose any? NO! Because mineralization has been so slow/low, so you may actually have to add MORE, not less.
  • Urea losses are less on warm and dry vs. warm and wet soil. A quick rain after application probably pushed enough into the soil and will minimize losses.
  • Revenge weed spraying: it is too late to spray wheat when the flag leaf emerges. Damage is already done to yield, and there’s a bigger risk of injuring the plant and further impacting yield
  • Chickweed in flower? Tough to kill and the yield damage is done.
  • Soybean inoculation is cheap insurance. If you’ve only had soybean on that ground once, it’s well worth inoculating again.

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