Ken Ferrie: Don’t Let Nitrogen Program Delay Planting Plans

Ken Ferrie 2
Ken Ferrie said as the calendar races toward May, with more rain in the forecast, planting shouldn't wait on fertilizer. ( Farm Journal )

The wet spring, combined with issues getting fertilizer this year, is creating a headache for many producers trying to plant this year. Ken Ferrie, of Crop-Tech Consulting and Farm Journal's field agronomist, is fielding questions daily from farmers about what they should do if anhydrous ammonia isn’t a viable option, with many even abandoning it as their fertilizer of choice.

“We’re kind of in a crunch time right now here in Illinois,” said Ferrie. “We need to plant, and we need to plant both corn and soybeans. I would not let my nitrogen program delay my planting program if the fields are fit and ready to plant.”

Ferrie said as the calendar races toward May, with more rain in the forecast, planting should take priority over getting fertilizer.

“Be thinking about the cost of delaying planting two or three weeks now will be too expensive,” he said. “It’s time to go to plan B or plan C. Let’s get the corn in the ground, let’s get the beans in the ground, and come back with an alternative plan for our nitrogen.”

Ferrie said producers have a couple options for alternative plans at this point.  

“If you have the ability to put some nitrogen on with the planter, that’s of course the most efficient and easy place to do it, or kicking some weed an feed out there by having your retailer put some liquid on, making sure you get the nitrogen out there to  get the corn off to a quick start,” said Ferrie.

Ferrie cautions that if producers are choosing to switch to sidedressing their anhydrous this spring, it’s imperative they keep the corn plants happy until then.

“We don’t want to go through a period of yellow corn waiting on our nitrogen application,” he said.

Ferrie also cautions producers to remember moving to more broadcast form of nitrogen isn’t as efficient, and they may run into a shortage issue later.

“My recommendation would be to split this up, broadcast some and then save some for a banding application in that side dress pass,” said Ferrie.