Wheat Pete's Word, Aug 19: Low falling number, nitrate poisoning risk, SDS, and green oat tillers


When there’s good wheat in abundance, those loads with sub-250 falling number are going to get dinged — and so begins some of the tougher lessons of this harvest season, says Peter “Wheat Pete” Johnson.

On this week’s Wheat Pete’s Word, you’ll get a harvest season update, more on the cover crop survey for Ontario, an insect reminder, why split application nitrogen paid this year in wheat, and more about oats. Listen now, download for later, or read the summary below!

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].


  • The drought isn’t broken everywhere, Pete! In dry areas, like the Niagara region, it’s so dry they are thinking about harvesting the corn for silage. Remember the weight and total mass is really in the stem and cob, not the leaves, so it may not be as dry as you think it is. If you do get a rain, watch for nitrate poisoning! From a feeding standpoint, and from a silo gas perspective, too
  • Sugar beets have started to come in, and early yields look good
  • Crazy hot in Alberta, and not just hot. Dry, dry, dry. Fire risk is just too high with dry conditions, hot weather, high winds, and low relative humidity. Shut it down. When it’s that hot, you stop combining, it’s the right call.
  • Ontario: still trying to get the wheat harvest in some areas. Some falling number issues showing up in these areas. Falling number sub-250 means it’s feed, for the most part. Bakers just can’t do much with it.
  • Spring cereals rolling in, too. First and last time growing oats, because of green tillers. They just are bad for it, and are more sensitive to heat than even barley or wheat. You may need to swath, but with alfalfa underseeded, it means wait. And maybe two weeks, which is why oats for grain isn’t a great choice for underseeding.
  • Sudden death syndrome showing up in soybeans. Take note and record it, as the field may be prone to it from here on out, and get looking for soybean cyst nematode. The two go hand-in-hand.
  • Spider mites need continued scouting so you can figure out if numbers are going up or down. Several things will knock them back.
  • Japanese beetles in soybeans are showing up too. So shiny, though.
  • Corn yield tour has begun. Planting cold meant that cobs look good, but the plant stand/cob counts are lower overall per field.
  • Phosphorus on wheat! You need a little K (potash), too. 55 bu/ac where P and K were limiting vs. 90 bu/ac with good levels.
  • Why did split N increase wheat yield for 2020? With all the N up front, we built the canopy, then ran out of water. Vs. less canopy growth with less N upfront. We think.
  • How early is too early to plant winter wheat? Not more than 14 days earlier than optimum unless you’re on heavy clay and you might end up shut out of planting this fall. Too late is worse than too early
  • Cover crop survey/poll responses! Based on responses, 84% of the wheat ground crop gets a cover crop. 26% still gets red clover. That is so cool, y’all. Keep it up.
  • Can you broadcast both oats and peas? Yes, but up your seeding rate on both. If it’s for forage, drill it.
  • 12 tonne of manure on the oat crop and added N. When do I spray for the crown rust that’s going to hit? You’ll get about 14 days of control, and another 7 days for the disease to grow. Wait as long as you can but 21-25 days before harvest.


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