Ken Ferrie: Address Pests And Decide How To Manage Unplanted Fields

Boots in the Field Report with Ken Ferrie ( Crop-Tech Consulting )

If your corn and soybeans are emerging, now is the time to set your pest plan in motion, says Ken Ferrie, Farm Journal Field Agronomist and owner of CropTech, Inc.

Ferrie says cutworm is now feeding on corn plants in central Illinois. He adds that even if your emerging corn crop is uneven, you still will benefit from controlling the pest rather than replanting the crop.

“We never walk away from a growing crop. If it’s too wet to go into your field and spray, then go in by air,” he recommends.

If you’re not sure you have cutworm issues and fields are muddy, consider flying a drone over the crop. Ferrie says corn plants that have been fed on by cutworm are easy to see from the air if you fly low over them.

That’s not the case for evaluating bean leaf beetle damage in soybeans, however, which is also underway. Bean leaf beetles tend to duck and hide in soybeans, so you have to get into the field and look closely at the plants to evaluate damage. Most at risk in emerging soybeans are the hypocotyl and cotyledon.

“The hypocotyl is that part of the soybean plant that lifts and pulls the cotyledons up through the soil surface. Feeding damage on the hypocotyl means it will be unable to do its job,” Ferrie explains.

While you or your pest team is in the field, take some time to evaluate your stands.

What if you don’t have your crops planted yet? Address any anxiety by evaluating each field to determine next steps—whether to stick with corn or to switch to soybeans, for instance.

Ferrie says, even though it’s late, you might still be better off planting corn in most fields.

“Yes, we’re giving up 30-bushels-plus per acre at this point, but if your fields produce 260-bu. corn you still have 230-bu. corn potential,” he says. “Make decisions for your farm based on facts and figures—the consensus at the coffee shop might not be the right decision for you.”

In the following Boots In The Field podcast, Ferrie shares additional details on how to evaluate unplanted fields and make decisions that can work in your favor this season.