Wheat Pete's Word, Ep 400: A milestone, wheat breaking dormancy, and ultra early N and early clover decisions


Someone get the man a party hat — Peter Johnson has hosted 400 episodes of Wheat Pete’s Word! For anyone doing the math, Pete records 50 to 51 episodes a year (depending on if he takes any holidays), so this is a real milestone for Johnson.

On this episode of the Word, Johnson doesn’t spend too much time on the milestone, and instead jumps right in to questions of the week. He can really tell the days to spring are dwindling as the questions and comments have really increased! Hear more on clover on wheat, early N, P, and K risks, managing manure and some sulphur explanations.

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].


  • This week marks episode 400 of Wheat Pete’s Word. Still aiming to get to Episode 1000!
  • Johnson’s gonna be old if he actually makes that goal
  • The weather is crappy. In lots of places! Western Argentina minus 2.5 Celsius in some locations. Most of the soybean crop is fairly well made
  • Maple syrup season is upon us
  • The ice cover on the Great Lakes is less than 10%, and that is the lowest ever recorded since 1980. The chart only goes back to 1980
  • Dale Cowen from AGRIS Co-op tweeting out that as of February the 17th, since January the first the growing degree day accumulation is 172 at Ridgetown. Normal up to this date is. 1.28
  • Dug up the oats. Are they still alive? Yup, the oats are still alive
  • What about wheat? Winter hardiness questions. It really will generally take down to minus nine this stage at the very coldest when it’s most winter hardy, but now it’s it’s out of that stage. At the second stage of that winter dormancy. It will take two weeks of ice encasement before it would have any negative impact from a respiration standpoint
  • Alfalfa that’s fully dormant survived four weeks under ice sheet before it started to die-off. Timothy or reed canary grass would were be about eight weeks
  • Once we get to the second stage of dormancy, then it’s rest perspiring a little bit faster
  • If we get snow, we get that freezing rain, we get that sheet of ice, we get some snow on top of it. Now we’ve got some insulation, if we do actually get really cold, really cold temperatures
  • Paul sent a message — get to more of the good stuff!
  • Wheat can start to grow and it can re-harden off, it can acclimate to colder temperatures, if we get a bunch of colder temperatures
  • Do you broadcast clover now? Well, the trick with clover, just like alfalfa, seedling has incredible cold tolerance, right up until the first trifoliate
  • The problem is that if we get a warm March as well, and with the ice cover off the lakes, that suggests that we could have a warmer than normal spring, that clover gets going it gets up to the first trifoliate stage, and then we get an early April cold period …it’ll be as dead as a doornail
  • A farmer’s neighbour is out putting 100 pounds of MAP on wheat right now (11-52-0). If you have a good stand of wheat and good tillers, should I be putting on MAP? P and K?
  • The data is really clear that when we have good base fertility, so we’re talking 25, 30, 35 part per million phosphorus, the yield benefit to phosphorus is small. But the environmental risk of that phosphorus is high. Not worth it
  • The one difference is when we get to the truly heavy clay soils, we know that wheat has a high phosphorous demand early on truly heavy clay soil, South Lambton, Niagara Peninsula, Essex County, wheat struggles to grow roots very easily and so we need higher soil test levels in those soils before the wheat doesn’t benefit from a starter phosphorus in the fall.
  • Let’s move on to nitrogen. Does early N feed yield? Shane and Pete just finished a nutrient uptake and partitioning study
  • Ohio research from a few years back clearly showed zero benefit to apply nitrogen until the wheat had fully greened up and was growing
  • It’s looking green in the field because we’ve had 172 growing degree days, but it’s not really out of dormancy yet and growing. And with this cold weather, it’s going to stop again. So there’s no benefit to this early nitrogen and the risk of loss is really quite high
  • Unless you have really late planted wheat and we’re trying to stimulate tillers, then maybe you try to get out there a little bit early, although with this cold stretch, I still think that’s too early, the risk is too high
  • No benefit to super early. We just can’t support any nitrogen application at least until we get past this next bit of cold weather
  • John Heard challenged me about the difference between sulphur availability ammonium thiosulfate on wheat and ammonium sulfate on wheat (Check out that episode here)
  • If I put 10 pounds of ammonium thiosulfate on five pounds will end up as ammonium sulfate, five pounds will end up as elemental sulfur which is not available of crop. If I put 10 pounds of sulphur on as ammonium sulfate
  • It’s really interesting because when we look at our uptake data, we have over two pounds of S in the wheat crop by growth stage 30, and that wheat crop is picking up point two pounds per acre per day. The sulphur demand is early early early
  • If I compost my manure, do I lose a lot nitrogen? You do give some up, yes
  • If you want to maximize your nitrogen use out of manure, you apply it as raw manure, and then you figure out how not to lose that nitrogen
  • Phytophthora root rot ratings of soybeans: 2019 changed, and now the numbers are crazy high. New rating done at R6, give it some time

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