Wheat Pete's Word, Jan 4: Building base fertility, wheat and dormancy, and running tiles


Welcome back to Wheat Pete’s Word! Host Peter Johnson is back in the host seat, even while working hard presenting and coordinating in-person learning opportunities around Ontario.

In this first episode of 2023, Johnson tackles forward thinking on building base fertility, discusses what’s worse for wheat (too cold, too much water, breaking dormancy), and joins the call for more politeness in our dealings with our fellow humans. Listen below 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].


  • Happy New Year!
  • Goals and objectives — the listeners want more, more, more. We’re sticking with one Word a week, though
  • The Wheat Pete15 is happening, and Pete says thank you
  • This week Ontario Agricultural Conference, next week Grey Bruce Farmers Week. Get out and learn!
  • @Olblue81 — Stuart Lawrence — Hoping for the return of politeness and civility in 2023
  • You can disagree and still be respectful, and we should be
  • Discipline is the only thing that will change your DNA (not really, of course)
  • If you don’t focus on the small steps, the mountain is never conquered
  • Spreading manure on snow making the rounds on Twitter as a promotion for a tractor. The optics are terrible, the management is terrible, and while it might not get illegal, but it’s a poor management practice.
  • Why? Because the manure will move with the snow — not in to the soil
  •  Discussion of power generation
  • January 2, 2023 — pennycress/stinkweed already in bloom!
  • Wild weather. Christmas blizzard killed livestock and tried to kill some of us. Then the weather did a 180 and is nearly at record temps
  • Running tile on January 1. Soil recharge is complete!
  • Nature Nut Nick had a very dry year. Total rainfall and timing combine on make it or break it
  • Warren S. had lakes in fields in early January, too
  • It also got really cold — is the wheat crop OK?
  • Yes, wheat is likely OK. But is the winter canola? That we’ll have to see
  • New genetics really make a difference
  • When wheat is dormant, it’s very cold tolerant
  • The bigger issue is if the wheat breaks dormancy now. Slower to break dormancy can actually be a good thing, but it can look uglier in the spring. Day length is a factor too
  • All that water sitting on wheat is bad, snow is better
  • Soil fertility talk time. P & K recommendation discussion. 12 ppm soil test P report, is it still current? Yes, but there is more information — base fertility matters.
  • Manitoba Ag Conference, 10 year study, John Heard, low rate P, 30% more, then another increment. The first three years, there was no response between treatments. But later in the study, with better base fertility, resulted in more yield in five out of six years (and it was economic)
  • Tissue test, grain are below average P, but high soil test P. What’s happening? Dry. Dry. Dry. Is the answer, in this case. Phosphorus likely in the top four to six” of soil and it was too dry. Positionally unavailable.
  • Heavy clays have reduced root growth so you need more P added because the root has to find it
  • Close off today’s show with a great quote: Ken Staver, University of Maryland, “The balance between keeping everyone fed, farmers making a living, and having clean water is a tricky one.

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