Wheat Pete's Word, Jan 18: Very early weed growth, fertilizer in strip-tillage, and finding good data


The gears are turning and so is the question machine for Wheat Pete’s Word!

On this week’s episode, host Peter Johnson is tackling plenty of the great agronomy questions that have rolled in over the last week, plus he shares some great quips and quotes heard in learning sessions over the last few weeks. Listen now, or download for later!

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].


  • There are dandelions in flower in the lawn in January (?!)
  • Mild winter equals cover crop oats that do not look dead. And that’s not good
  • It takes -9 degrees C, but if the crop is under snow, it’s protected
  • The crop might survive, but there’s plenty of winter let to kill them
  • For some areas, this mild winter in Ontario has some worried about moisture
  • Some agronomists say not worry about subsoil moisture till the middle of April, there’s a lot of winter left
  • But there is also some chickweed growing already, even though it was sprayed it last fall. New plants germinating?
  • Reports of rye breaking dormancy? It’s not as winter hardy as it once was
  • Land rent story: Landlord reached out to them and said, You know, I noticed that you don’t grow any crops from about November through till March. Do you mind if I rent the farm out to someone else through that timeframe to let them grow something?
  • Some dietitians have no concept whatsoever where the food they are going to recommend to their clients comes from, so Lisa is helping spread the word! Be like Lisa.
  • Facts time: Chatham soil is much nicer than most of the clay in Essex County
  • Let’s talk data. Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement was the home for Crop Advances. Went looking for the nitrogen stabilizer data on winter wheat and couldn’t find it
  • It’s there, it’s really hard to find the IT department for Ontario Soil & Crop is working on that, they updated the website
  • Looking at the YEN data, the top producers, the top 10% of producers actually had a lower potential yield than average
  • If you want to join YEN, you still can
  • Quote of the year so far: Colin Elgie says no soil test, no whining about fertilizer prices
  • Both Deb Campbell and Johanna Lindeboom work with producers who farm farms with single digit potash levels
  • We want potash to be 120, 130, 150 and they talked about potash levels of five! How can you possibly grow anything with a potash level of five
  • On that note, a bit of a discussion and questions coming in around how much fertilizer does it actually take to change the soil test one part per million. The standard numbers that will map for uses 35 pounds of phosphate,  and 20 pounds for
  • Dr. Dave Hooker tweeting out that he’s so excited to be teaching his cropping systems class and even Pete wants to go back to school
  • Chad Anderson on The Agronomists, Rotation is the oldest and easiest tool that any grower has to weather proof your soil
  • It’s rotation, rotation, rotation. What crops do you actually have that can work in your rotation? Chad’s comment says he’s really excited about winter canola, it puts another crop in the rotation,
  • Grain corn, followed by silage corn, followed by winter wheat, where I grow an oat-pea cover crop, and I’m a beef producer. Should I switch soybeans in for grain corn
  • 60 bushel soybeans at today’s prices, that is $20 per bushel that’s $1,200. If I use $8.30, I just went to my local elevator $8.30 cent corn that only converts to 145 bushels of dry corn that you could buy. And you would say wow, that that’s nowhere close to 180 or 200. But wait a minute, back up a couple steps because you would get 10% more silage corn. So that 145 now becomes at least 165, maybe 175 180, we’re getting close, you’re also going to be able to do less tillage. So that brings something to the bank, and long term your soil should be more resilient
  • Can I put my first pass of nitrogen on in my strip till and if so, how do I do that? Can I put 60 pounds there? Can I put 100 pounds there? Well, Greg, it really does depend on how good is the blend in that strip that you put in in the spring
  • Too close to the fertilizer band can drop population significantly
  • We really want 100 pounds per acre of nitrogen in our first pass that sort of minimum, at least 80 pounds up front, the corn really suffered, but 120 didn’t really bring much to the table
  • You can use a poly-coated urea, that’s a possibility it should help as long as the poly coating is intact. But go slowly. It will depend on rainfall that year and soil type. If you’re on sand, I think you’re in trouble. I don’t think you can go over 60 If you’re on heavy clay
  • Two-and-half bushels more urea versus 28%, what about growers now are using dry ammonium sulfate with some urea in that first early pass with the fact that some is immediately available to the wheat crop. Would that help level the playing field with 28%?
  • Spring wheat growing near London, how early is too early? January 24th has been successful, and March is better than April, for sure
  • Envita on hay or on edible beans? Where do these biological nitrogen fixers fit? Colin Elgie says try a test plot on your farm! They simply are not consistent enough

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