Wheat Pete’s Word, Aug 21: Manure on grain land, spider mites, cool weather, and vexing vetch

Photo: © Deere & Company

From frost risks in the west, to nitrogen deficient corn in the east, and insect and weed issues in between, there’s no shortage of agronomic questions to tackle this week on Wheat Pete’s Word.

In this edition, host Peter ‘Wheat Pete’ Johnson shares some of what farmers are seeing in their fields this week as harvest begins in Western Canada, and kernel counting kicks off in Ontario and parts of the U.S. But even as kernel counts start to stack up, Johnson says that there’s so much riding on kernel fill, not just number. Listen on for more!

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].


  • Drought ’19 finally broke this last week for most of Ontario. Nice soaking rains. Some that were already wet got too much, but much of the soybean crop will be very appreciative
  • Frost! Nooooooooo! We know the Peace region of Alberta did dip below zero, but areas of northeastern Saskatchewan are also about 10 days behind the long-term average. Combined with cool temps, some farmers are growing increasingly nervous about the growing season dragging on (or ending abruptly).
  • Are the cool temps why it took so long for wheat to finish in Manitoba? Yup. It’s all about heat accumulation. The upside? Cool weather with no freezing is good for grain fill! Let’s hope it means more yield.
  • Remember to report your wheat yields in Ontario to Agricorp! Not nearly enough numbers yet to inform the provincial average. Fields looked rough this spring, but yields have been OK. But we need more information, so get those yield figures in.
  • Christine Brown, nutrient management specialist with the province has some great numbers regarding manure applications and their value. A livestock producer with access to lots of manure over time will end up with very good soil test numbers of phosphorus and potassium. At some point, these numbers can creep high enough that an application no longer offers a yield response. In that scenario, manure only has a $6/acre value. BUT the cash croppers that have medium or low levels of P and K on soil tests? That same manure application is  worth $126/acre. From an environmental and economic standpoint, if you’re applying manure ask yourself — is this the best place for this? Maybe you’ve got a neighbour who could make better use of it. Get paid for the N,P, and K. Let’s do more manure exchange!
  • Yes, spider mites have popped up, but still no real aphid numbers. Watch your edible beans for some insect damage.
  • Corn tours are under way. Yield estimates are actually pretty solid, but that’s based on kernel counts. Will it fill and finish? Kernel size and weight can make a huge difference on eventual yield. How many kernels do you need to make a bushel? Could be a 30% difference in yield if you’re only counting kernel number.
  • Some are reporting symptoms of a nitrogen deficiency in the corn crop. There may have been some N lost in the wet start to the year, and it gets worse as soil warms. Fields that had Y-drop-added N shouldn’t be short, but some are showing it. Why? N availability is still rain-driven. Need enough to get it down into the soil profile, or it becomes “positionally unavailable.” Too late to add more, really. The rain has come and that’s going to help a little, but that’s it. A yield response would be hard to achieve right now with any added N.
  • Plot of 2×2 dry band vs liquid vs broadcast P and K; what does it tell us? Especially in dry conditions, broadcast P and K on corn is a no-go (it’s different for soybeans). No yield data yet, but visually the difference is staggering
  • Questions: Control of vetch and wild carrot on unseeded acres? Lontrel is a good option but wait 30 days to plant winter wheat. Wild carrot not a hard weed to kill.
  • Sow thistle in soybean fields. Do we need fall-applied Lontrel post-corn? May be an option, but it is pricey.
  • Question on foxtail control: Wheat was planted last fall, sprayed out in May, with glyphosate, Integrity and atrazine and the foxtail is horrendous! It was a foxtail year, for one thing, but also foxtail is very sensitive to canopy cover (which winter wheat provides and outcompetes the foxtail). Spring wheat doesn’t outcompete the foxtail, unfortunately. So nothing growing = foxtail issues.
  • Keep the plot results coming!

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