Ken Ferrie: What to Watch in Planted Fields

12:13PM Apr 27, 2020
Boots in Field
Boots in the Field Report with Ken Ferrie
( Crop-Tech Consulting )

After a week of planters running at full steam, be on the lookout for issues in seedling corn and soybean plants. Last week’s planting conditions were overwhelmingly good in many regions, but this past weekend’s cold snap and rain this week could bring new challenges.

“So far, this spring has been a cakewalk compared to last year, and we hope it continues to play out that way,” says Farm Journal Field Agronomist Ken Ferrie.

As Ferrie scouts planted fields, he’s specifically looking for seed chilling, insects and crusting. He’s also answering many farmer questions about urea inhibitors.


“Corn planted after the early warm up and before Tuesday’s warm up will be susceptible to seed chilling issues,” Ferrie says. “I’ve never seen a field that needed to be replanted because of seed chilling by itself, but when you add that to disease issues, insect issues and soil crusting, it can kick a field over the top.”

Scout fields planted in that time frame and watch emergence to ensure you’ll have a stand that supports your end-of-season yield goals. There’s still plenty of time to make corrections.


“Pheromone traps continue to catch cutworm, [and] we expect cutworm loss, but we’re still seeing strong numbers of armyworm,” Ferrie says. “I think this is going to warrant some action in the future, so scouts, be alert.”

Normally you’d see one to two armyworms right now, but Indiana agronomist Erich Eller, with ForeFront Ag, says he’s seeing six or more in his traps, too.


Light rainfall has helped many fields avoid crusting issues. However, if you’re in an area that had heavier rainfall, you may have crusting in your fields. Be ready to act.

“If you’re fighting a crust that’s starting to show up, pay attention to the emergent process,” Ferrie advises. “Be ready to break [a hoe] out. Remember, we always say hoe before you know—it’s much better to hoe early than to try to break through a thick crust to save a crop.”

Nitrogen inhibitors

“I’ve had questions this week on nitrogen inhibitors for the spring weed-and-feed program where you’re not doing any incorporation,” Ferrie says. “Our biggest concern is losing the urea portion of that application. If you’re not incorporating it, it can gas off on us.”

Look for a urease inhibitor to stop gassing off. Be sure to clarify with the retailer what you’re buying—it can be easy to mix up cheap urease inhibitors with more expensive nitrification inhibitors. If you do that, you’ll pay for protection you don’t need and not get the protection you need. Mind the label, but if it’s confusing, ask questions.

Listen to more of Ferrie’s thoughts on what’s going on this spring here:

Read more Boots in the Field here:

Ken Ferrie: Some Concerns from Sampled Corn Seed Quality