Wheat Pete’s Word, Jan 9: Life-long learning, talking plants, compaction trade-offs, and seed-placed P

Just like that, we are knee-deep in meeting season — and that means, engaging speakers, research findings, sales pitches, and new ideas for the growing season ahead.

Fresh off another successful Southwest Agricultural Conference, Wheat Pete’s Word host Peter Johnson is raring to go answering your top agronomic questions. First though, if you’re looking for professional development days, make sure you’re signed up for some of the really great information days and conferences happening in the next few weeks.

In this week’s episode, Johnson tackles some push-back on the manure spreading decision making process, explains why seed-placed MAP with soys is a non-starter (see what we did there?), and whether or not re-seeding drown out spots is wise in a wheat field.

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].


  • Agronomy geeks, unite! It’s meeting season — if you missed SWAC we’ve got all sorts of coverage coming. Check out this link for more.
  • And there’s FarmSmart and a few more, Ken Ferry will be in town. Make sure you’re signed up!
  • Lots of cool stuff to get you motivated and get the wheels turning, like how plants communicate (See Clarence’s stuff here), how it impacts nutrient availability, and more
  • One Seed Project: We maybe take for granted just how much information is at our disposal. Johnson’s work with the project in Zambia, focuses on the simple stuff, such as seed depth and incorporating urea to help with food security
  • One caller asks, are there really those doing tillage at this time of year?! Yes, they are out there. It’s way too wet on clay right now, so only sand or light soils (strip tillage) makes it possible. The freeze/thaw cycle will help with some compaction action, but will not fix a mess.
  • Manure matters, but the environment matters more. One farmer says they’ve had better luck putting manure on frozen vs. spring apply on clay soil, because it causes too much compaction. From a production stand point, yes, you’re right, Johnson says, but from an environmental standpoint, you’re very wrong. Phosphorus is sliding right into waterways under these conditions; the environment has to take precedence.
  • High straw manure, not enough storage problem: when’s the best time to apply? Spring, or windrow it and wait? Johnson suggests storing it as safely as you can, in the field or wherever works and most definitely apply it post-harvest following wheat or barley crop.
  • Biosolids with heavy metals — is it an issue? On agriculture land, no, and we’ve got research to back it up.
  • It’s January and I can see my wheat emerging. Unbelievable! But there may be drowned-out spots — the field is seeded to soft red winter wheat. Do I seed down those spots with a spring variety? Answer: Only feed type option available, but could that be profitable? Possibly! But you’d be looking at feed, only. I wouldn’t do it before April, either. Give it time. Those patches may surprise you.
  • Some agronomists are pushing planting soys in April, but what about cold shock? Best to avoid planting in front of a cold rain. If it’s April 20, air temp is 8, -2 at night, yup, it’s too cold, but with decent soil conditions, and reasonable forecast conditions, go!
  • Soil test talk (last episode): Good reminder that if your soils are testing high in nutrients, you need to draw them down or risk losses and environmental impact
  • North of London, some growers say they’re putting MAP with soybean seed and seeing a yield increase. Whoa, there. 50 pounds of MAP with soys — you will reduce stand by 15%, and that’s expensive seed. If you’re on anything but single digit phosphorus soil test, then it’s no-go. The best result on low phos-soils was broadcast P.
  • Green feed after wheat (oat/pea in 2018 rusted and fell over). Thinking sorghum sudan grass and sunnies. Peter asks, why sunnies? Also, sorhum may not have the heat after wheat (and make sure you ask for an oat variety with resistance to rust. They’re actually pretty common, but you need to buy variety specific).
  • Water pH and spray efficacy isn’t a huge issue, except perhaps with insecticides. The water pH with herbicides is not an issue unless it sits in the tank. Water quality can be an issue, however.


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