Wheat Pete’s Word, Nov 29: Streamers, volunteering, the trouble with yield monitors, and digging in to organic matter

As the holidays approach, two things become increasingly true: we have a much clearer picture of the final tally of the growing season, and it’s never been more timely to reach out and check in with those you maybe haven’t spoken with in a while.

For this episode of Wheat Pete’s Word, host Peter Johnson has got some really cool plot results to share and finally gets in to the organic matter discussion he’s been promising for weeks. Plus, Pete’s got a message for us — show appreciation for volunteers, be a volunteer, and take your Wheat Pete’s 15.

Have a question you’d like Wheat Pete to address or some field results to send in? Agree/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].


  • Winter has arrived in southern Ontario with multiple streamers putting corn harvest on hold
  • Those streamers are so bizarre — you can be in sunshine, and in 10 feet, you just hit a wall of snow, and it’s absolute whiteout
  • Happy birthday, Peggy from Tara who turns 82 today!
  • Celebrate those volunteers
  • Thank you to everyone who came out to Thistle Theatre for Pete’s play. It was such a fun play — two hours of solid laughs many people left saying, Oh, My cheeks hurt Oh, my sides hurt!
  • Communities thrive off volunteering. Consider it for your own community
  • If you’re right, forget it. If you’re wrong, admit it.
  • Please check in on your neighbours and friends, as the farm community lost a farmer to suicide
  • There’s incredible stress out in the countryside, the price of corn is down the price of drying is up. Interest rates are harsh. There’s many many stressors
  • Don’t forget about Wheat Pete’s 15. That phone call could make an incredible difference in somebody’s life
  • Ontario Corn Committee released the performance trials GoCorn.net
  • No, there is not any DON data there
  • Ben Rosser, corn lead with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs says maybe they’ll be able to release some data this year
  • Check out the Panmure/Kinburn results! That’s Lyndsey’s neighbourhood. The average yield: 304 bushels per acre. 109 is the top index that means the top hybrids in that trial hit 331 bushels per acre. Great job, farmers and tip of the hat to Paul Sullivan, with Sullivan Agro
  • Some plot results are in from Northern Ontario — it’s way too short a season for corn, the top hybrid in James trial at 190 bushels per acre, and you just go wow, like, man, if you can grow 190 bushel corn up there. Wheat Pete’s getting a little bit worried that you might not want to grow wheat because getting 120 bushel wheat up there is a bit of a challenge.
  • Let’s talk about yield monitors — it’s really important to recognize the limitations of using a yield monitor to really evaluate anything, especially for hybrid selection. Check out The Agronomists on this exact topic!
  • Finally, let’s talk organic matter. There is so much value in rotation, rotation, rotation
  • Where are we going with this? In talking about 300+ bu corn, what was the crop before? And before that?
  • Corn off of ground that was edible beans last year with oats seeded after the edible beans and they got reasonable growth last fall with dairy manure, liquid dairy manure applied, and that yielded 270
  • It’s not just pure rotation — weather, ponding, drought, etc, too. And this is where organic matter can matter so much
  • For example, soybean stubble sat ponded and wetter and wheat stubble drained better because it had that better tilth (health, structure, etc.)
  • Under stressful conditions, rotation pays the biggest benefit
  • Corn on corn can need more applied nitrogen.
  • Check out the Corn School with Dr. Dave Hooker here
  • So, on to the organic matter discussion and soil health
  • How do we measure soil health?
  • Here’s a story on how we can measure soil health by proxy — From 1986, Pete has been managing ground as best as he can, with rotation, less tillage, and cover crops, and even though he can’t measure the differences in the soil this year, even on the back of the moraine, where normally we used to figure we would lose 30-40 bushel per acre in corn yield, the yield monitor never dropped below 200 bushels per acre. The average yield in the field is 230
  • How do we build soil? Roots generate five times the organic matter that the above ground portion of the plant does!
  • Should you work ground in the fall or spring? By doing it this fall you create erosion potential on those undulating slopes
  • Even in dry conditions, shorter and cooler areas can build OM faster because the soil doesn’t burn through the carbon as quickly
  • There is a talk on rotation advantage and soil OM that will be at the Ontario Ag Conference in early January
  • More organic matter equals more water availability


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