Wheat Pete’s Word, Feb 3: Biologicals, gypsy moths, potash on soy, and the importance of replicated trials

Ultra early spring wheat seeding trial at Edmonton — AAFC

In just a few weeks we’ll be itching to get going in the field, but in the meantime there’s plenty of questions to answer and prep to get done ahead of the very busy spring season.

For this episode of Wheat Pete’s Word, host Peter Johnson shares some surprising stats regarding frost-free day gains, plus details about potash on soybeans, and onto just how to set up new product comparisons that will result in numbers you can count on.

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]


  • Age is not a disease, but it sure is a factor
  • Early spring? Maybe! Only 25 days to March 1.
  • Times change and change adds frost free days. Wowzers, we’ve gained some growing season in 40+ years. Heat units and frost free days are up, up, up. Seven frost-free days in the last 10 years.
  • In making decisions, it’s important to measure and discuss this risks. Like with late alfalfa establishment, or planting dates in the spring.
  • 100 times around the block for some would be 400 miles! Maybe figure out something more reasonable
  • Plots are a means to an end, but not the end. Remember replications, comparisons, and the reliability of the data. One comparison is not enough to create a definitive answer. Differences mean look closer, ask again.
  • Noticing spider webs on maple trees? Is that gypsy moths? Sugar maples are susceptible. Usually a 7-year cycle, and last year was a big year, so likely the beneficials are building their numbers too.
  • Frost seed clover before oats, with oats, or after? If you can drive across to frost seed the red clover, do the oats at the same time! Not before.
  • Oats following wheat — no N credit. What about red clover after the wheat crop? Normally, no, but IF the wheat comes off early, we might have enough time now. Crimson clover maybe? It’s an annual. But we have less data on the N credit.
  • Organic corn establishment means going in mid-May to get better weed control
  • New products and biologicals: how do you sift out the real winners? Trials! And replicated trials, remember. Get your neighbours to do some too.
  • Biological systems are complicated.
  • 200 ppm potash soil test. Do you add potash to the soybeans? Remember actual vs applied. Check out The Agronomists episode on the topic here!
  • 100 lb of product is about 60 lb of K
  • Clay and potash — K is tightly bound to the clay particles. Heavy clay means less root growth, so even though soil test says it’s available, restricted roots can’t access it.
  • Remember averages don’t tell the whole story!