The Agronomists, Ep 109: Wonderful winter wheat with Phil Needham and Peter Johnson

Residue management, seeing rates, dates, other establishment factors in the early season, and a whole lot more are the focus on this episode of The Agronomists.

Host Lyndsey Smith is joined by certified wheat gurus Phil Needham of Needham Ag Technologies, and Peter “Wheat Pete” Johnson, RealAgriculture’s resident agronomist.

The focus for this episode is winter wheat, but we will be sure to bring you more wheat content throughout the season.

This episode of The Agronomists is brought to you by ADAMA Canada, the Wheat School, and RealAg on the Weekend.

Catch a new episode of The Agronomists Monday at 8 pm E!


  • Grow great wheat! That is all. End of episode.
  • In all seriousness — it’s cool out there. Even in Kentucky.
  • -2 to -3 degrees C once the wheat has started to boot is pretty concerning
  • There’s HUGE variability in fields
  • It’s not just about how cold it gets, it’s also for how long it gets cold
  • Is there any ice at all on water? That could be an indicator
  • A lot of questions in the east right now about plant growth regulator timing
  • Do NOT apply a PGR in any stress conditions
  • Do we have the tale of two crops in Ontario? The early and the late?
  • Count the number of plants per yard per row, and divide the samples to get the average
  • Make sure to get out of the seeder, dig into the row, and see how the seeder did
  • Do the same thing once the crop starts to emerge, so you can benchmark how you drill did, and how you manage your crop
  • Check out the Canopeo App — Needham loves it
  • Row width makes a huge difference when it comes to counting your plant stands. Reference it to the row spacing
  • Needham is not a fan of the 15 inch wheat, based on studies they’ve conducted. Even in the drier areas the more narrow rows do better
  • From a European perspective, 7.5 inches is considered quite wide for planting
  • The job we do at harvest with the previous crop will impact the wheat crop for the rest of the season.
  • Combine settings. Let’s pay attention to them. It’s so important with residue management. Especially when we start dabbling into those 40 ft headers
  • We don’t have as much technology (or patience) on the back end of the combine
  • What can we do if we’ve realized we have made this mistake? Unfortunately, we can’t do much
  • The way that reside spreads changes as the crop dries out throughout the day
  • The cost per year for a better chopper is relatively cheap when you calculate the paybacks at the end of the day
  • Sulphur emissions have dropped drastically in the U.S.
  • Tissue test. Tissue test. Tissue test. How else will you know what’s going on?
  • There’s a stark difference in a test Needham did with sulphur applications. Sulphur is worth it
  • Nutrient uptake depends on several factors
  • Watch for sulphur deficiency on heavy clays, but also especially on low organic matter sandy soils
  • Do we have to worry about sulphur applications hurting the wheat? Well…it depends, and please pay attention to your herbicide applications
  • Elemental is for the long term, sulphate is what your crop needs right away
  • Is there a magical ratio for sulphur? Pete is not a ratio person. It’s more about what the capacity is in the soil
  • If you just look at the ratio, you ignore what the soil could bring. Soil test, or better yet — tissue test!
  • If you are wondering how long it’ll take for the plant to take up the sulphur, you need to consider particle size
  • Temperatures and rainfall also are a big consideration here


Wheat School: Timing plant growth regulators for winter wheat

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