Wheat Pete's Word, May 18: Zooming wheat, fleabane risks, planting depth, and planting progress


It’s mid-May, but you almost wouldn’t know it by looking at seeding progress in Manitoba and parts of Saskatchewan. Super-dry Alberta and suddenly-warm Ontario bookend the seeding and planting progress and average things out (what does average really tell us, anyway?).

On this episode of Wheat Pete’s Word, host Peter Johnson brings us up to date on the state of the wheat crop down south, why wheat is surprising growers, how tough soil conditions have been, and how deep (or not) you should plant beans.

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 planting progress in Ontario has been absolutely unbelievable
  • The bulk of the corn crop is in; there are even growers who are entirely finished both their corn and soybeans — all in about a seven day window
  • The U.S. is quite behind on corn planting, enough that it could eventually affect the market
  • Wild weather happening, too. We’ve had tornadoes in Saskatchewan already, dust bowls in Alberta, and floods in Manitoba
  • The rain is falling where it isn’t needed
  • Wheat prices are wild right now
  • The Kansas wheat tour is underway, and the average yield reported in Kansas at 39.5 bushels per acre vs usually about 46.9 bushel estimate. That’s 16% reduction! There’s unbelievable drought stress
  • In Ontario, a cold April is being followed by a warm or even hot May
  • How warm? About 55-75 extra growing degree days vs the average
  • Wheat is rocketing right along and catching some by surprise: we’re even at flag leaf stage! Wheat is all driven by temperature and last week we hit 30 degrees Celsius with warm nights
  • How fast? It went through a leaf stage in four nights!
  • We’d rather it grew a little bit slower, because anytime it’s over 25 degrees Celsius, the wheat actually goes backwards, but it shouldn’t have much of a negative impact on yield right now
  • In Johnson’s part of Ontario, the soil is not working up nicely. Why do we have such tough soil conditions?
  • Compaction from last year’s late fall rains and harvest traffic is a likely culprit, plus less effective freeze/thaw cycles
  • Some area also had extremely fast drying and heat — that’s how you bake clay!
  • How do you manage it? Many are choosing to roll
  • Rolling leaves a very fine surface, and we saw devastating water erosion over the weekend on tilled ground
  • Strip-tillage is also a struggle but you would have some residue slow down that soil after a big rain
  • Planting depth for beans is less of an issue the warmer the soil. The warm temperatures last week likely waarmed the soil up enough that we probably can get away with deeper planting of soybeans. But 1.5″ is recommended
  • Corn is a different story; plant deeper
  • On to the Q and A! Wheat at at flag leaf stage, can I still spray my herbicide? A: You’re taking a risk. Once you hit flag leaf stage, the risk of injury on that crop does go up
  • One farmer never saw dandelions in wheat after edible beans until now. What happened? It’s fall out from taking glyphosate out of the pre-harvest pass
  • At $15 a bushel for wheat, how do I make more yield in this year’s crop? Can I spray a fungicide? Can I spray a foliar fertilizer? If you look at the data, it’s quite clear. You need a T3 timed fungicide, but what about product stewardship? Think about it, and make sure the yield potential is there
  • What about an amazing looking wheat crop? Get it some N
  • Keep an eye out for stripe rust. Further south, it’s later than normal
  • Soil microbes have been a little slow to start. It could mean lower nitrate soil levels. Stay tuned
  • Farmer didn’t get pre-emerge spray on Xtend soybeans and there are big fleabane plants. Full rate dicamba, but spray safe. If these were IP beans, that’s a replant scenario
  • How close can you spray 2,4-D to planting soybeans? Make sure it’s 240 ester. The label is seven days, but we know that we can go closer than that, but it’s a risk (disclaimer: always follow the label)

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