Wheat Pete's Word, Mar 30: Manure management, food scarcity, tile-run wheat, and N stabilizers


There are so many questions surrounding nitrogen management this spring, and for good reason. Nitrogen is darn expensive and might be hard to come by in the coming weeks.

For this week’s episode of Wheat Pete’s Word, host Peter Johnson covers questions about split application N, N stabilizers, N credits and making the most of N in manure. Plus, hear more on wheat assessments and growing more food.

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].


  • They are planting potatoes in western Ukraine. It’s highly unlikely they will plant on all the acres that normally would be.
  • It’s good news for the people of Ukraine, who will need more food going forward
  • Inputs in to Ukraine are still a challenge
  • Closer to home, some of the wheat in Ontario is looking GREAT
  • But there are fields that do not look GREAT
  • We also had some cold weather (-14 degrees C) on exposed wheat — is it dead? It should be OK because at this stage wheat can handle minus nine to minus 12 at the crown. How long did it stay at -14 could be a concern.
  • If that very cold temperature gets to the crown can lead to cold injury
  • Pete is astounded — absolutely astounded! — by some of the wheat fields that looked rough last fall (tile run wheat). There are plants there!
  • Need to assess the wheat crop? Check out last Monday’s episode of The Agronomists all about taking a look at what’s there with a drone and satellite maps
  • Some limits: you may have to wait for more green-up to use aerial imagery, either way. The economics are there to make sure you’re leaving a decent (but maybe not A+ crop)
  • New topic! Sri Lanka was self-sufficient in rice production, the country decided to go 100% organic. And it was an unmitigated failure. They took a population that was basically moving towards the bulk of the of the people being middle class doing other things, and instead put half a million people back into poverty.
  • All the way through civilization, as our population grew, as we turn to agriculture for a stable source of food, rather than trying to hunt and gather, we have just taken trees away, or grasslands, and turned them into agricultural lands. And we’re getting to the point where we can’t do that anymore
  • In terms of having enough food to feed people, Europe is taking steps to help grow more food to feed Ukraine. The European Union has released the six per cent of acres that they have set aside for biodiversity and pay farmers $500 million euros to bring those acres back into wheat production
  • On that note, drought is significant in parts of the U.S and Western Canada
  • Kansas has an outbreak of army cutworm in their winter wheat crop. They also have brown wheat mites in the Kansas crop and both of those are because it’s been incredibly dry
  • Remember visual differences don’t always translate to yield differences
  • Spring harvested soybeans? These ones went to the elevator and were downgraded for “heating.” Is that possible? If you look at the definition of heated soybeans it’s discoloured cotyledons. So over the winter, whether it’s a disease, or weathering, something has discoloured the beans and there’s nothing else in the grading guide to call them, but they definitely are damaged
  • Last question, and one we’ll delve into more on the April 18 episode of the Agronomists
  • Managing nitrogen on wheat on heavy clay soils. Strategy is usually 80 pounds of nitrogen first shot, and then 4o for the 2nd shot and 40 for the 3rd shot (if warranted). Looking at the cost of nitrogen stabilizers, are they worth it? They’re going to cost me about $10 an acre. If I use the nitrogen stabilizer and cut my nitrogen rate by 10%. Well, at the current price of nitrogen, I cut the nitrogen rate by 10%. I’m saving $20 an acre, so I’m up 10 bucks an acre. Does that make sense? Well, it depends!
  • N stabilizers are not that straight forward. Urea on the soil surface, when it’s warm and damp, you can lose 5% of that nitrogen per day. And if that’s the case, you could cut back your nitrogen rate 10% and use the nitrogen stabilizer, and absolutely it would work. But if you put UAN, that 28% is half urea, half ammonium nitrate, you put that on the soil surface and you get a rain the next day, a nice gentle one inch rain that moves it into the soil, and then it gets well into the soil and then it dries out on the surface. Your loss really drops to about zero. But then there’s heavy clay to contend with!
  • Where does dry dairy manure make the most sense: on wheat, hay, alfalfa hay or on corn silage?
  • A grower is looking at wheat after peas wondering if they can skip the first N pass. Yes you can.

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