Wheat Pete's Word, Mar 20: Managing stem counts, phosphorus questions, rolling alfalfa, and sweet gifts


It’s too soon to know if March will leave like a lion or a lamb, but points west are getting some heavy snow and much of Ontario is back to very cool and even cold temps.

Cooler temps haven’t slowed down farmers’ enthusiasm for frost seeding or putting on some nitrogen and sulphur on wheat fields in Ontario, but the return of winter has got some worried about the winter wheat crop. For answers on those questions and more, check out this week’s episode of Wheat Pete’s Word!

Have a question you’d like Wheat Pete to address or some field results to send in? Agree/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].


  • The sweetest gifts! Maple syrup always welcome
  • People are starting to realize wheat can be exciting
  • Wheat Pete has made it. Officially.
  • Sufferin’ Dufferin county got some frost seeded oats in March 20. Dry soil, firm soil. Makes Pete’s heart sing
  • Keep us posted, by the way
  • OECD says 20 per cent of calories consumed in the world cross an international border
  • That’s 1/5 of every calorie being exported/imported
  • Pretty amazing to have a global community of food growers!
  • Check out GoCrops.ca — feedback welcome
  • March 31st is the deadline for access to the Ontario Ag Conference recordings
  • Drainage check up time! Look up for wet spots in winter wheat fields that shouldn’t be there. Check outlets, check inlets
  • Challenge on rolling alfalfa — the custom operator wants it done. Practicality trumps agronomics in this case
  • If rocks are an issue, heaving etc.
  • Winter wheat acres looking good, but we’ve had 3 nights at -10 plus a windchill and zero snow cover. What are the chances of damage?
  • The growing point is still underground
  • Wheat does react to day length, so even the warm weather won’t make it really start to grow and elongate
  • Three days to acclimate to a new trend (cold or warm)
  • We can probably take -9 at the crown if the cool has continued
  • Split app N questions: a good idea agronomically. It’s still early for that first shot. The sulphur is most important and a little N is OK, but less than 50 pounds of total N
  • 40-0-0-15 in the next few weeks on the frost and come back in in late April sounds like a good strategy
  • What about on big wheat? Hold off?
  • 70 stems average vs 100-130 stems per square foot. Want to add S, but not too much N…how?
  • Should you starve off some of the stems? In NZ, they delay N until it is yellow. Yikes!
  • Stems per square foot are a good measure of yield potential and N uptake data — lots is good
  • Standability is an issue. PGR? Maybe. Wait for growth stage 30 to 32 to put the big shot on
  • Polycoated N and loss discussion. Check out Monday’s episode of The Agronomists
  • Winter barley set for forage, going to take early (soft dough). Might have to hustle
  • Manure on wheat can work, but keep it uniform as much as possible
  • Phosphorus questions? Check out March 25th episode of the Agronomists!

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