Wheat Pete's Word, Apr 21: Plant growth regulators, deep planting, snow and frost damage on wheat


A smattering of snow and sub-zero temps have hit much of Ontario, putting some fruit trees at risk and spurring plenty of questions about the impact on wheat, spraying, and more.

For this episode of Wheat Pete’s Word, host Peter Johnson answers those questions; plus, he offers advice on when to use a plant growth regulator, how to assess frost damage on winter wheat, and when to chase moisture when planting soybeans.

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].


  • Whoopsies! Sorry about the jinx of growing degree days …now we’ve got snow in some areas (some significant!)
  • Three times since the first of March, 10 day warm to cold trends
  • There will be some impact of this cold/freeze on some fruit trees, for sure, but let’s hope temps stay above -5 degrees C
  • Dry in the Dakotas, like, drier than the Dirty Thirties dry. Forecasted rain just isn’t materializing
  • August of 2020 was the last significant rainfall in Mott
  • Get those cereals planted early. No soil moisture at all? Don’t go deeper than an inch
  • Inputs? Have crop insurance for sure
  • Split-N, for sure, so you can top up if it rains
  • Phosphorus rates should remain (it will be there next year if it isn’t used)
  • Maybe cut back K rates (or drop entirely, if it is something you would normally apply)
  • 1988 — in Ontario, it didn’t rain until July, August in some areas
  • Put beans down into moisture, but if there isn’t moisture at three inches….
  • Some areas are forecasted for -5 or -6 degrees C for four to six hours
  • Stage is key! The more advanced, the less cold/frost tolerant the plant becomes
  • What else is at play? Moisture, snow, where the head is, wind
  • After this cold snap, wait a few days before assessing damage, it takes time
  • If the main stem head does die, the tillers will kick in!
  • Low temps mean STOP field activity, re: herbicide especially
  • Questions about PGRs: is lodging an issue on your farm? Start there.
  • Variety plays a role, as does N rates, and weather, too! Thinner stems increase lodging potential
  • PGRs really pay where lodging is a risk to yield and quality
  • When do I see tramp damage? Do I have to take the floaters off the sprayer? As soon as the growing point is above ground! $345 to change the tires over, that’s 50 bushels of wheat at $7. So do it!

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Wheat Pete's Word (view all)Season 7 (2021) Episode 36

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