Be Your Own Crop Scout

Jul 20, 2020


The demands on a farmer’s time can be never ending.  Accounting, marketing, mechanic work, landowner relations, and don’t forget about farming.  With all of the hats farmers have to wear, its no surprise that sometimes one of the most important jobs on the farm goes undone - scouting fields For the row crop farmer, the actual crop in the field is the main source of income for the operation. 

Some of the most successful farmers are the ones who spend considerable time in their fields aside from planting, spraying, and harvesting.  That’s not to say they are experts in agronomy and have all the answers for everything they see in their fields, however they do have the insights to ask the right questions about what’s happening in the crops. They also have a good basis to compare what salespeople and other industry “experts” tell them with what is actually occurring. 

With this in mind, consider the following basic principles for being your own crop scout.

Stand-  
The first key to a successful crop is a good stand.  Knowing 1/1000th of an acre distances for your row spacing will make stand counts much easier and more accurate.  Identifying unusually high or low stands early gives you the power to manage and optimize yield.
 
Commitment to Cconsistency-
Things can happen quickly during a growing season.  Eliminate unpleasant surprises by regularly visiting each field.  Depending on the crop and stage of growth, “regular visits” can vary, but no matter what the schedule, discipline and follow through are key.
 
Circle, circle, circle-
Completely circle the perimeter of each field.  “Drive- by’s” or briefly stepping out into the first few turn rows leaves you vulnerable to missing something big. That back corner of the field you can’t see from the road might be the very place bad armyworm infestation starts. Laying eyes on the entire field is the only way to truly scout a crop. 
 
Understand growth stages-
Things that may not be worth noting at one growth stage of the crop may be very critical at another.  Knowing the stage of your crop and what pests are a threat at each of those stages is an essential aspect of scouting.
 
Understand tThresholds-
You’ve spotted a potential yield robbing pest in your field, now what?  Well, depending on how many you found and what stage of growth your crop is in, you may not need to do anything at the time. However, you may need to spray immediately to prevent substantial yield loss. This is why it is crucial to understand your growth stages,  Years of expert research has led to established economic thresholds for various pests.  These thresholds provide a great starting place to determine if we should address a particular pest problem or just ride it out.
 
Hopfully, these tips will prove helpful and encourage you to scout your fields. 
 
 

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