Wheat Pete's Word, Apr 5: Erosion control, sulphur clarification, N timing, and pretty heads


The weather outside might be frightful, especially for the first week of April, but Wheat Pete’s Word is so delightful!

This week on the podcast, host Peter Johnson makes some very important clarifications on sulphur concentration in fertilizer products, talks erosion events and manure application compaction, and throws out a new challenge to listeners regarding the crop in the feature image above.

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].


  • Apple fun! How many seed compartments in an apple?
  • Two seeds per compartments, by the way. You can get lopsided apples
  • Courtlands and Granny Smiths don’t cross pollinate
  • Question for next week: On The Agronomists Monday, host Lyndsey talking about how canary seed heads are the coolest! Why do we have to apply potash to canary seed fields even with high K fields?
  • Wild weather on Wednesday: thunderstorms, freezing rain, rain downpours
  • Water erosion, rain erosion is often worst in October to May
  • Preventing soil movement is a tremendous positive impact of cover crops
  • Tillage can make water erosion worse: we’ve got to continue to push towards less and less tillage because it helps with soil health, and it helps keep that soil in place
  • Some put on a full shot of nitrogen fertilizer on wheat last week, just to get it done
  • If that nitrogen moved in the water, and it likely did, it could be anywhere now. That’s expensive and not responsible N stewardship
  • Check out this great chat with Timothy Caulfield and Bern Tobin about misinformation
  • Misinformation is right behind climate change as the most significant issue facing civilization today. Artificial Intelligence is going to exacerbate that problem even further
  • Pete got to speak to Dr. Dave Hooker’s agronomy class at Ridgetown Campus, University of Guelph. And it was a hoot!
  • Listener from Maryland saying his wheat is at the jointing stage — that’s when it needs nitrogen on
  • Dan in Idaho sent photos of winter wheat with seven feet, yes, seven feet of snow
  • AJ in Kansas sending me a text saying wheat didn’t germinate because it was in dry soil. It did eventually get enough moisture. The winterkill looks horrendous. So in the dry areas of Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, wheat is in tough shape, just massive differences as we move across North America
  • Let’s clear up the sulphur and sulphate. In Canada and North America, we report sulphur as sulphur in the concentration. So in 21-0-0-24 that 24 is not sulphate it’s sulphur (actual). Similarly with ammonium thiosulfate: 12-0-0-26, that 26 is sulphur. With ammonium thiosulfate, half of it goes back to elemental and half of it becomes sulfate which is available, but the total sulphur is what is important in the concentration
  • For example, let’s say a product is 15 per cent sulphate by weight, then you have to divide that 15 by three, so it’s actually only five units of sulphur
  • Total uptake in the wheat crop (not removed, taken up) is 11 pounds. In the research that we did, we could never get a response beyond 20 pounds of sulphur
  • What the heck is a 770 and soil test? Sorry, Dean! The first number is the phosphorus soil test number and the second number is the potash soil test number so a 770 is seven parts per million phosphorus, 70 parts per million potash in Ontario extraction tests
  • What about mixing up your own products? Can you make them cheaper? Should you? Be careful; formulations matter
  • Surfactants matter, as do other things in the mix. Things can go south very badly
  • Moving on to ultra early seeding of barley and durum. Yes, ultra early works. Durum wheat responding to that ultra early seeding just like hard red spring, base on the area
  • What about broadcasting oats with a drone versus drilled oats? Broadcast oats definitely yielded less was not as much less as you might have expected, and needs to be considered with compaction risk and field conditions
  • How do you know if the ground is fit to apply manure but save compaction? If it’s ready for tillage, it’s ready for manure
  • Acclimatized seed: is it an issue? We do get issues with warm seed, really cold water, but that’s in the soil, not the bag

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Wheat Pete's Word (view all)Season 9 (2023) Episode 38

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