Proper crop scouting provides invaluable information farmers can use to make informed decisions to protect yield and quality in their fields. Getting that information requires a plan for how and when to monitor your fields.
Before entering the field, it’s important to have a plan. Farmers are encouraged to map out their route in a way that provides coverage of all field zones, usually in a zigzagging or M-shaped pattern.
It’s generally recommended that scouts observe and take detailed records of environmental conditions, pests, diseases, weeds, crop-growth progress and the overall health of the crop. Reference materials or online resources can help farmers identify pests and crop abnormalities they may not recognize on their own.
“If a grower sees something in the field that they can’t identify, they can always send a photo or sample to an extension agent for help,” says University of Minnesota Extension Entomologist Bob Koch, Ph.D. “I usually recommend that growers carry a hand lens to help them see small pests, a sweep net to aid in the collection of samples and a smartphone or camera to take photos.”
Determining scouting frequency is usually dependent on the time of year, weather and pest populations. If a potential problem does pop up, farmers should check all their fields before assuming the issue is widespread or requires an immediate response.
“Just because you have an issue in one field doesn’t mean that same issue will be present in all your fields,” Koch says. “Wasteful spraying can cost farmers a lot of money. Get in all your fields and know your economic threshold levels before you take action.”
We know weed management is on the top of farmer’s minds. In the video below, SDSU Extension Plant Pathologist Emmanual Byamukama shared tips on staying ahead of weeds during the upcoming growing season. As weeds becomes more difficult to management and we see resistance increase, Byamukama shares that scouting is more important than ever.
For more information on weed management, click here.