Wheat Pete’s Word, April 27: Swapping grass for alfalfa, early fleabane control, overwintering barley, and big wheat seed

(Kara Oosterhuis/RealAgriculture)

Merry Christmas in April? Plenty of Ontario residents woke to snow this morning — does this mean planting will be delayed?

Chill out, says Peter Johnson, in this episode of Wheat Pete’s Word. It’s only late April, and a little snow isn’t going to cause an issue. But, the growing season is underway, so it’s time to tackle some of the key questions growers are facing, including taking out an over-wintered barley cover crop, feeding a less-than-stellar wheat crop, and assessing winter kill of perennial or fall seeded forage.

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].



    • There’s SNOW on the ground this morning in most of southern and eastern Ontario
    • Why is it that today it feels like we have time to get the crop in, but BAM, May 1st hits and , oh gosh, It’s getting late. We gotta go. We gotta go. We gotta go.
    • Hold on, slow down. Don’t get stressed out. We don’t talk about changing corn hybrids until May 20.
    • Southern Manitoba is flooding and the images are staggering. Will they have full soil moisture recharge? I think so!
    • How there is no equity, Mother Nature? Southern Alberta, around Lethbridge is dry, dry, dry, they are seeding in to dust.
    • Areas of the U.S. are also struggling with a crop in poor condition. Arlan Suderman, with StoneX tweeted out a picture of the hard red winter wheat condition index. This is for mainly Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma. The crop is rating a 266, that t would put them on track for about a 34 bushel per acre yield. See tweet below.
    • If they get everything to go right from here on in the very best they could probably hope for is average.
    • A reminder that mental health and physical health are linked. Download this podcast and go for a walk.
    • Forage supplies in Eastern Ontario looked very, very solid in the last three weeks, or so, however the winter wheat crop, the forage crop, the winter barley crop, the winter canola crop in Eastern Ontario has really gone backwards.
    • New seeding alfalfa looks okay. Cereal rye as a forage still looks good.
    • Last fall, I mentioned that there was a field of winter canola that was planted in August in the Niagara Peninsula that had bolted. Well, guess what? Turns out it wasn’t the winter canola that bolted, it was actually wild mustard
    • Spring barley planted last summer as a cover crop (in Staffa area). It overwintered! What now, brown cow. Need -9 degrees or colder at the crown, not just on the leaves. Glyphosate is always slow under cold weather conditions, so get out there and spray that volunteer barley immediately. And I guess this is why we often end up controlling our cover crops in the fall.
    • Alert! The seed size on spring wheat is incredibly big, like, wow, where did that come from based on last year’s production? How does it impact seeding rate?
    • Winter wheat crop update: too much fleabane and dandelion, and lots of chickweed in some wheat fields. Get them controlled, but remember the rule of three: give me three days, where the minimum temperature is above plus three.
    • Tile-run wheat. The yield potential of the wheat crop is less in 2022 than it was on April the 27th of 2021. It’s just because of that wet October. Do you stay the course on N rates? In many cases the wet October has reduced the yield potential on our wheat crop and it’s we still have good wheat
    • Let’s talk fibre. Fibre in feed, that is. Fibre digestibility on grass — triticale, cereal rye, or any of those winter cereals — have more digestibility vs. alfalfa because the alfalfa stem simply isn’t very digestible. Do you switch to grass and add protein? Maybe.
    • You need big nitrogen rates to get big yields and big protein. It’s one of those things I don’t think we’ve talked about enough or thought about enough. So as you’re going through that thought process, something else to tuck in the back of your brain.
    • Comparing 20-inch versus 30=inch corn on silage, which is better, what’s the yield gain?
    • Does row direction matter? Keep the wind in mind, especially in Western Canada.

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