The importance of scouting your fields

Crop scouting keeps you on top of field conditions, helps you catch and diagnose problems early and allows for timely corrective action before major crop losses occur.

Every year we are faced with field crop challenges. Some can be predicted and some occur randomly. You have a huge investment in the growing crop and need to keep a close eye on each field throughout the growing season. Scouting your fields on a weekly basis can help you catch and diagnose problems early so corrective action can take place before major losses occur.

Signs and symptoms to look for are most anything that appears abnormal. These can include stunted or off-color plants, chewed foliage, dead or missing plants, insect presence, insect droppings, weed escapes, abnormal crop growth and a host of other indicators that something is not right. The causes could be soil related, such as nutrient deficiencies, compaction, fertilizer burn or herbicide carryover. It could be nematodes, insects, deer, rodents or other critters. Sometimes it is environmental, like a frost, hail or wind. Diseases often need to be prevented. Factors favoring disease development need to be monitored so timely action can be taken.

Scouting for a particular pest or problem requires very specific methods. These methods can vary depending upon the pest or problem, but may include time of day, stage of crop, location to look on the plant or in the soil, as well as action population thresholds.

MSU Extension News for Agriculture provides timely articles and weekly regional crop updates. This information can optimize your field scouting time and focus your efforts by highlighting current crop concerns and local pest outbreaks.

Stay in contact with your local agribusiness representatives and MSU Extension educators for what is happening locally. Army worms have been a problem in certain areas this spring.

A crop diagnosis field day will be held in Gratiot County on June 28 at 10:00 to noon. This event will provide a hands-on update of current and potential problems. Call the Gratiot County MSU Extension office at 989-875-5233 to register and for the field day location.

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