Time to Begin Early Crop Scouting in 2011

Many Midwest farmers will wrap up the 2011 planting season this week, but there won’t be much rest for the weary.  As soon as seed is in the ground, it’s a good idea to start scouting fields.

Post-planting is an ideal time to begin scouting one’s crops.  Many soilborne pathogens strike as soon as the seed begins to take on water; others strike young seedlings.  Because seeds can germinate quickly and emerge in 3 – 5 days, it’s not too soon to start walking your fields.

Check plant populations, evaluate stands and be on the lookout for early summer diseases.  Is there a germination problem?  Do you see effects of chilling or crusting?

Assessing your situation ASAP will allow you to formulate a plan while there’s still plenty of time to implement it.  You could replant in parts or in all of a field now, so you can attain the yields and returns you want this fall.  Information on corn replanting decisions is available from www.agronext.iastate.edu/corn. Click on the “Planting” topic, then click on the “Replant Decision Aid Calculator” tab and use that tool and related information to help make a replant decision. For a resource on soybean replanting decisions, go to www.extension.iastate.edu/publications/pm1851.pdf.

Another benefit of evaluating current stands is to help you determine what adjustments should be made before planting next year’s crop:  Do you need to adjust your planter settings or your planting speed?

Once you get past the mechanical issues, look at the disease pressure.  If soybeans are damping off, perhaps next season you should opt for seed-applied fungicides? Do you need to pay closer attention to a particular soybean brand or corn hybrid’s disease rating?  Seed selection is one of the most important decisions affecting yield. Click here for tips on selecting  soybean brands and selecting corn hybrids.