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Top 10 Tips for Scouting This Season

Jun 14, 2012


Everything is showing up early in the field this season, including crop diseases, weeds and pests. Farmers need to gear up earlier than usual, too, to get on top of these agronomic challenges, says Missy Bauer, Farm Journal associate field agronomist.
Here are 10 scouting tips she recommends farmers use as they check fields. While she says the 10 tips are in no way comprehensive, using them this season is sure to add more bushels to your yield outcome at harvest.
  1. Be proactive and timely. Know when to anticipate specific weeds, insects and diseases for your area and plan to scout accordingly.
  2. Track your local weather conditions. Environmental factors can significantly influence when and whether weeds, diseases and pests develop in your fields.
  3. Walk through fields using a zigzag or "W" shaped approach. This will help you get a more comprehensive overview of what potential problems each field you scout contains.
  4. Take good notes. Record the types, numbers and locations of weeds, disease or pests you have in each field as well as the time and date. Hang onto this information so you can reference it next year.
  5. Assign the job of insect scouting to a specific individual, a bug boss, who will make the scouting process a #1 priority in their day-to-day activities.
  6. Take action if insect threshold numbers are met, using sound integrated pest management (IPM) treatment practices.
  7. For disease scouting, check for plants that show signs of stunting, lesions, discoloration, yellowing and senescence. Get a laboratory diagnosis if you are unsure of the correct identification of the disease.
  8. For weed scouting, check your fields during early pre-plant and post emergence as well. Be vigilant to check fields for weed growth during the first three weeks following crop emergence to evaluate weed pressure and to determine whether you need supplemental control measures.
  9. If you find weeds, disease or insects you do not recognize, consult your agronomist, Extension personnel or a pest-identification guide.
  10. Take a pest kit with you to the field. Helpful tools include: pollen hat, safety glasses, scouting guides, tape measure, digital camera, hatchet, pocket knife, hand lens, vials or sandwich baggies for collecting samples, change of clothes, water to drink.
For more help in identifying weeds, diseases and pests, visit AgWeb's Online Field Guide.


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