Wheat Pete's Word, June 1: Heads per square foot, bitter rye, weevils, and the Palouse


It’s June 1st, do you know how many heads per square foot the tile-run wheat has?

This last week has been one of scouting for the host of Wheat Pete’s Word. Peter “Wheat Pete” Johnson has more than a few alerts and observations for the week’s podcast. From head counts and rapidly approaching T3 timing of the wheat crop, to weevils at threshold, and ladybugs eating aphids, and on to cutting rye for feed quality, listen on to the Word!

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].


  • Condolences to the family and friends of Dr. Murray Miller who was a professor at the University of Guelph, specializing in soil/plant relationships.
  • This episode of the Word is being brought to you from Washington State. Yes, I’m out here speaking to the Washington Association of Wheat Growers, and it’s my first time in the Palouse region. It’s not really mountains, it’s just amazingly steep hills and they farm these hills!
  • Everybody else listening as you’re doing tillage, tillage erosion is 10-times worse than wind and water combined, particularly in most of Ontario, so dang, let’s just keep tillage to a minimum
  • In southwestern Ontario, things are ticking along pretty doggone well
  • Eastern Ontario, though is still planting corn on May 30th. That’s getting pretty late for that part of the world. It’s really to the end of the window
  • The Agronomists Monday night had reports from all over Western Canada and northern U.S., and in some areas not one pound of seed in the ground
  • Manitoba has had the second wettest spring since 1896. They are now talking about broadcasting soybeans because they simply can’t get the job done
  • Also on The Agronomists, Laura Schmidt, with the Manitoba Pulse & Soybean Growers, shared that even into the third week of June, in southwestern Manitoba farmers could still achieve 80 per cent yield on soybeans
  • Don’t worry about carbon dioxide in greenhouses impacting the humans that work there (but thank you for the concern)
  • An Alberta wheat crop at 19 plants per square foot, seeded September 6th, eight to 10 tillers per plant on irrigation. That’s getting into the world record challenger for wheat crop!
  • When we can irrigate, wow, we can grow some unbelievable wheat
  • Johnson has been out scouting a lot of wheat fields for T3 fungicide timing
  • Last year, wheat was short and thick with high head counts. This year, between the tile runs, Johnson is counting about 50 heads per square foot. The winners last year of the YEN competition were 100+ heads per square foot.
  • From further away, the wheat looks good, but up close, the head count isn’t there
  • Suddenly hot weather isn’t ideal. Plants don’t love a sudden run-up in temperature, as they can’t acclimatize that quickly, and you’ll see things like herbicide injury (i.e. with dicamba)
  • Let’s talk alfalfa weevil! Last week at this time alfalfa weevil was almost at threshold (two weevils per stem or 40 per cent of the stems having damage) Get out there and scout, especially if harvest is 10 days away. You need to control it, if over threshold, or cut the hay
  • There are a few aphids in the wheat crop, it’s way below threshold, but the ladybugs were coming along, too. Yay, nature!
  • What’s the matter with my barley? It’s gone all yellow! That’s just barley being barley: it doesn’t like wind damage, it doesn’t like wet feet. It could be a sulphur deficiency, but there are other things, too
  • Growers putting down phosphorus with their alfalfa seed want to push to 75 pounds from the recommended 36 pounds — is that OK?  75 pounds might be safe on a wet year and a heavy clay soil,  but probably most of the time, it’s going to have a negative impact on that alfalfa seed. If you’re on a sharp sand and it’s dry, probably 20 pounds is about all you can get away with. Why do you go to 75 pounds if you don’t get added response? Use what gives you response broadcast the rest
  • Leaf damage on wheat? Could be leaf rust, it might be stem rust. Either way, just get out there scout
  • Control of wild carrot? Use the new Crop Protection Hub
  • Lontrel on sowthistle, what’s the rate? How late can I go? Read the label! Watch the weather, too.
  • Dandelions gone to seed at planting: will you lose yield? A heavy rate of glyphosate will kill some of them, but they will  die fiercely slow. They might take three weeks or maybe even longer, and when that crop comes up through that green mat of dandelions, there is definitely yield loss
  • Flowering wheat — is it time for T3 fungicide? Tune in to The Agronomists Monday at 8 pm E! Pete and Kelly Turkington will be on to talk all about T3 timing and fusarium control
  • Spraying at flag leaf but the head is almost emerged? Be careful!
  • If you want clean straw, it’s called pre-harvest glyphosate — versus spraying too-close to heading. That will hurt yield
  • How long after rye heads do I have to make good forage? As soon as rye heads the quality of that right crop, the quality of that forage goes in the sewer. Rye loses forage quality probably faster than any other cereal grain that we harvest. If you want high quality, you got to actually harvest it before it heads out. And once it heads out, it just becomes stronger and stronger and stronger

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