The Agronomists, Ep 123: When wheat needs nitrogen with Brunel Sabourin and Peter Johnson


And just like that, we’re onto the last episode of The Agronomists for the month of August. Time flies when we’re having fun, hopefully you all are, too!

For this episode of The Agronomists, host Lyndsey Smith is joined by Brunel Sabourin of Antara Agronomy, and Peter “Wheat Pete” Johnson of RealAgriculture, to discuss when wheat needs nitrogen, how much, and why that matters. When is the right time? Right source? You know the drill. Click below for a fantastic conversation between the trio.

This episode of The Agronomists is brought to you by ADAMA Canada, the Wheat School, and RealAg Radio.


  • Ontario is in the lull — between seeding winter wheat and wheat harvest mostly done, before soybean and then corn harvest starts…
  • Those late tillers drive everyone nuts!
  • Soybeans are not that far behind, but corn is. Due to a lack of heat units
  • Soybeans LOVE heat. Although, they do not make Lyndsey’s heart flutter
  • But hey, it’s time to talk about Pete’s favourite crop…wheat!
  • As the price of fertilizer climbs, lots of producers are paying closer attention to the economics now. Does it pay to top dress? Variable rate? These are all things they are looking at.
  • Growers are going to a base rate in the fall (for the west)
  • If you put all your nitrogen in the fall…you have spent all your cash, and could potentially lose some in the spring
  • Where is the highest risk of applying?
  • Fall nitrogen under Ontario conditions just does not work…in the Great Lakes Basin
  • When the soil thaws out, that’s when we get that big hit of nitrous oxide emissions that we don’t want

CLIP 1: Don’t short the wheat crop! 

  • How early does wheat need N? Are we shorting it?
  • We always have to be really careful when we start taking nitrates and the wheat crop is in its rapid uptake stage. Once it hits that stage, the nitrates will be at zero
  • If there isn’t enough moisture, do we worry about inhibitors
  • No N on the snow!! On the winter wheat crop you do need it early, but there really is such a thing as too early.
  • The timing of your first nitrogen application of winter wheat really depends on what your winter wheat looks like in the spring
  • Is the first pass of N still the best time for sulphur? The sulphur demand on winter wheat in Ontario is early, early, early
  • 90 per cent of the sulphur is in the winter wheat crop by anthesis
  • Multiple foliar applications of N for meeting 100 per cent wheat N demand with a small amount of total N? Yay, or nay? Nay.

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