Plan to scout now

Finally corn and soybean fields are planted, are up and growing. Some growers were able to plant early and the crop emerged and started growing. For many other growers, corn and soybean planting didn’t start until the first to the middle of May and the crop struggled to get out of the ground due to cooler temperatures and water issues. Be it sidewall compaction, insect feeding, and disease, the emerging crop in 2013 had these issues to contend with. What happens in the next 80 to 90 days will have a major effect on maximizing yield potential. So much can happen and with uncertainty of the crop’s success, the need to scout all crop fields is very important and beneficial.

A good tool for part of your scouting plan is to carry the Corn and Soybean pocket Field Guide from Purdue or Ohio State University as well as pen and paper to record your findings. There is good information regarding crop development, weed and insect identification that will help make for a good scouting plan to eliminate problems later on.

In the past, some growers would drive by their fields of corn and soybeans and feel their fields were okay with no plan to stop and walk. However, for these early issues hampering crop development in 2013, growers need to walk their fields often or hire a professional to do this for them. With many corn fields planted with the Roundup Ready trait, we have become lax in keeping track of weed issues during the season that hampered yields. Glyphosate resistant weeds including giant ragweed, lambsquarter, and palmer amaranth in corn and soybean fields need alternative herbicides for weed control.

In many areas, much rain fell after nitrogen was applied. Those who didn’t elect to have a stabilized nitrogen product included should be concerned about nitrogen availability for the growing corn crop. Many soil testing laboratories do offer the Pre Sidedress Nitrate Test (PSNT). This test will determine how much nitrogen is available for corn yields and, if results are lower than normal, additional nitrogen should be applied to make up for what was lost.

Another area to keep track of is the presence of insects in fields in the next several weeks. Brown stink bug, armyworm, stalk borer, and slugs have made their presence known especially after periods of wet, cool weather patterns following planting. There are some insects, like brown stink bug that are more prominent in saturated soils where the seed furrow didn’t close completely. In fields of corn after corn especially, the hybrid planted would have below ground insect protection from the trait of the particular hybrid.

Corn rootworm larvae usually die after ingesting part of the corn root. At times of higher than normal pressure by this insect, we can see more early root feeding that possibly could result in stalk quality and standability issues later on in the growing season, which can reduce yield. Depending upon the area, this insect has been found in first year corn fields following soybeans. Should this insect situation occur, it is important to note this so plans can be made for these fields to be harvested early and avoid lost yield in the fields. I also have seen this year, in some areas, corn flea beetle injury. We can have two generations of this pest. If this insect injury did occur, record it in your scouting book for future field visits.

While walking soybean fields look for any injury by twospotted spider mites, Mexican bean beetle as well as bean leaf beetle. Under dry growing conditions these pests can cause significant leaf damage and will warrant an insecticide for control.

As we walk our fields, pay attention to any leaf diseases in fields as well. Normally gray leaf spot and northern corn leaf blight will occur later on, prior to tassel, however recent studies have shown a fungicide application at V5 has been beneficial to the plant in those areas where these diseases have been occurring more.

Wet weather patterns will have a big effect on early soybean growth. It is important to note of any seedling blights, Phytophthora root rot and Rhizoctonia root rot that can reduce soybean stands in fields. Usually dry weather is the best solution for these situations, however a fungicide application, if needed, can be sustaining plant growth.

Taking the time to walk and scout crop fields will help growers stay on top of issues affecting crop growth and yield potential. To really know what is happening out in our fields, we need to walk and make notes of what is going on. What time you spend walking and scouting your fields will pay off for a successful harvest. If you don’t have the time to do this on your own, hire a professional to scout your fields, because scouting fields periodically does pay off come harvest time.

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