The N decision, armyworm thresholds, and little alligators — RealAg LIVE! with Wheat Pete


It’s time for RealAg LIVE! Q&A with resident agronomist, Peter “Wheat Pete” Johnson.

The regular host of Wheat Pete’s Word is fielding questions from Western Canada, Ontario, and more in this quick discussion (summary is below) on nitrogen testing and rates, armyworm and predators, and tillage.

Tune in Wednesday, June 24, LIVE! at 3 pm eastern for a Q&A with Mary Robinson, president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture

  • Ontario got some timely rain in some places, friends! That’s good news
  • Crops look really good in some places (the Peace and a few areas notwithstanding)
  • Shaun is learning to be a hand talker
  • Dry fertilizer surface application on wheat? You could go at anthesis. Make sure you’ve got a uniform prill, for uniform spread, and lower dust, please.
  • Don’t count your bushels before they are in the bin, right?
  • There’s more soil nitrate N than expected in the soil right now for Ontario. But it was a cold spring! What the heck? It’s because it was dry, as well as cool. That lowered losses.
  • What does it mean for corn split applications of N? There’s more to consider.
  • Sometimes what you expect from a rotation isn’t what you always get — it speaks to the importance of soil nitrate testing.
  • Armyworm! In some areas, they’ve eaten flag leaves and the whole bit. Thresholds are part art, sometimes. Got to take into account time of year and protecting that flag leaf. How far are you in to grain fill?
  • Armyworm are moving north in the wheat crop/province.
  • Alligator alert! Lady bug (ladybird beetle) larvae look like alligators — and they will feed on armyworm eggs and armyworm larvae, too.
  • Approaching fusarium control/suppression timing in Western Canada. What’s the go/no go? The later you can push fungicide spraying towards heading, the better yield response you’ll get. BUT don’t be too late. Fusarium risk means a fusarium fungicide, not a leaf disease product. Prior to heading you’re targeting leaf disease, so you may need to control for leaf disease prior to fusarium timing
  • Shaun is also learning to be an agronomist
  • PGRs need on early, it’s not the same timing as fungicide at all! That’s too early for most disease pressure. It becomes a compromise. And why compromise?
  • Remember the 1/2 rate of Tilt days? We’ve learned, let’s do better, because we know better. Half rates aren’t worth it, leads to resistance, and just a waste.
  • Alert! Alert! Alert! Wheat Pete and recreational tillage don’t mix. Just don’t do it. Now, when it comes to soybeans, some tillage makes a difference, and it’ll give you peace of mind to do that little bit of pre-tillage, but tillage is hard on soil.
  • Let’s talk compaction and those headlands — and tillage. Tillage is art as much as it is a science. Because sometimes it makes things so much worse, but every now and then it adds some yield.
  • We know the benefits of decreasing tillage: better water infiltration, less erosion, less compaction, better soil structure.
  • Pre-side nitrate dress test in corn. How reliable are they? They’re a snapshot in time. So take it at 6-8 leaf corn. Too late, and you’ll get results you can’t really use. Three times out of 10 it’ll predict the right rate. It’s not perfect, but it’s a base understand, and can use it to fine-tune N.
  • June 15 to July 15 rainfall is another tool that helps fine-tune the N decision.

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