Tips for Successful Scouting

August 10, 2008 07:00 PM

Sara Muri
, AgWeb Crops Online Editor
Unfortunately, the deck is probably stacked against you in the pest battle this year. The combination of late-planted corn and unfavorable weather has the strong chance of increasing the amount of pests in your cornfields.
Bill Bauer, an independent crop consultant in Ohio and Michigan, stressed to recent attendees at Farm Journal's Corn College the importance of having a pest scouting plan in place.
"Someone should be a pest manager – the pest boss,” Bauer says. He says by having someone in charge of pest control on a farm, there is a better chance of detecting pests early and treating them. "You want to be proactive, not reactive.”
The Potential Pests
Bob Wright, extension entomologist at the University of Nebraska, says this year's unfavorable weather and delayed planting dates have made some insects problems severe, and some less of an issue. He suggests scouting for the following insects:
  • Western bean cutworm – Wright says this pest has received more press this year, but believes numbers are down due to the wet spring.
  • Grasshoppers – In his area, Wright says, grasshoppers are starting to move in on both corn and soybeans.
  • Rootworm beetles, caterpillars and corn ear worms – These pests are a magnet for late-planted corn, Wright says.
  • Spider mites – These insects thrive in hot, dry weather.
Wright says producers should be paying close attention to areas where neighboring fields are in various development stages.
"If most of the corn is in the brown silking stage a nearby field is still in the green silking stage, insects will be attracted to the later-planted fields,” he says. The range of planting dates has influenced the insect attraction to those fields.”
Being Prepared to Scout
When scouting for pests, several items may be needed. Bauer suggests having the following tools when you head to the fields:
  • Pollen hat
  • Safety glasses
  • Scouting guides
  • Weed control and insect guides
  • Field crop reference guide
  • Tape measure
  • Hatchet
  • Change of clothes
  • Something to drink
Online Tool
The Crop Scouting Calendar provides a month-by-month guideline as to which pest you should be scouting for in your fields. Each pests listed has linked material to photos, description and management guidelines.
Wright says the calendar's guidelines are based on the vulnerable stages of corn. In a year like this, those stages might no be falling in the general time periods. "Base your scouting decisions on the crop's growth stage, as much as the calendar,” he says.
For More Information

Other Insect Observations Worth Noting
 by Kevin Steffey, University of Illinois

You can e-mail Sara Muri at

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