It's always fun to watch veteran scouts check out the list of who's riding with whom on each day of the Tour. Returning scouts normally check who will be riding with Gary Wietgrefe first. If they find their name on Gary's list, they usually experience a rush of apprehension and excitement.
If you're in Gary's car for a day, you'd better be ready to move quickly, think fast and go the extra step to figure out what's happening with the crops.
Last year, for example, Gary rolled up on road construction. The line at the makeshift stoplight was long. With corn and soybean fields close by, Gary sent scouts to grab a swift sample…and they got back to the car just as the light turned green.
A South Dakota native, now a Syngenta agronomist, Gary's enthusiasm for Crop Tour dates back to the first year of the Tour and he hasn't missed one.
Tour leaders have consistently used Gary to help educate nonfarming scouts and have assigned him to some of the greenest newswire reporters covering the event.
But perhaps Gary's greatest contribution is his ability to answer the many questions Tour leaders have each year. As scouts scatter around each state, they find "unidentifiable” bugs, weeds and crop diseases. A quick call to Gary with a full description of the pest normally leads to an accurate diagnosis.
One of the Tour's biggest contributions to the pest-tracking world was the identification and year-to-year tracking of the western bean cutworm in Western Tour corn fields. Gary lost no time in making sure Tour leaders understood exactly how important this find was for helping growers prepare to control future infestations.
For years of enthusiastic participation, educating and consulting, Pro Farmer is proud to add Gary Wietgrefe to a short and prestigious list of Midwest Crop Tour Master Scouts.
Top Producer, September 2009