Much of the soybean belt has received plenty of moisture this year. Since such conditions are often associated with increased plant disease and a greater threat of aphids and other pests, scouting your fields this summer is especially important.
As you walk your fields this summer, use these tips to make the most out of your scouting:
- Consistency is key. Designate a point person to be the primary scout. Scout regularly and check the same areas to compare growth and any signs of stress from one week to the next.
- Bring the right tools. In addition to pen and paper, bring a camera and pocket guide. Smartphone mobile apps are available that allow you to reference hundreds of pests and diseases from the palm of your hand. Imaging technology may also be worth the investment to provide you a bird’s eye view of your fields.
- Get to the heart of it. The heart of your field, that is. Check several points, including deep within each soybean field.
- Inspect and collect. From root to leaves to pods, be sure to give the whole plant a thorough once-over for signs of stress, and collect a sampling of suspicious weeds, bugs and damaged plants.
- Consult the experts. Don’t be shy about contacting your local extension agent or agronomist. The experts will help you effectively prevent and treat crop damage, and can lend insights from neighboring farms.
- Scout your equipment, too. Summer is the perfect time to make sure your equipment and storage facility are ready for harvest. Take advantage of the warm weather (and hopefully a little down time) to make any repairs.
- Document your findings. You’ll want to reference these reports when planning for next year.
Careful, consistent crop scouting this summer will pay off in yield this fall, so take a little time and enjoy the view from the fields.