Spring scouting critical for season-long pest control

With so many other obligations and tasks to complete in the spring, scouting fields often falls to the bottom of the list. But if an issue does arise, isn’t it better to fix the problem before it gets out of control and hinders the yield potential of a newly planted crop?

Taking the time to walk a field is the best way to identify and react to potential pest, weed or disease issues.

Here are some tips for making the most of a scouting trip:

When scouting, take along a notebook and pen to record notes, and a small shovel, a tape measure and plastic baggies for specimen collection. A digital camera can help accurately capture pest symptoms and plant irregularities for second opinions and proper diagnoses.

Bring along the latest scouting guides, which can be valuable resources for pest identification, disease symptoms and crop staging information.

As the growing season starts, pests will make themselves known. Scouting provides the information needed to make sound management decisions.

“The first thing a grower should do is mentally review any issues from the field last year,” says Dave Ruen, Dow AgroSciences field scientist. “Generally, there will be one or two problems that stand out from the previous year. Keep those in mind while scouting.”

For an accurate overview, collect samples from multiple areas of each field. Note and diagnose any pest pressures and crop injury; compare them with recommended economic injury levels or thresholds; and decide if action is needed.

Sam Ferguson, Dow AgroSciences field scientist, advises growers to check and observe the stand for consistency at early emergence.

“Work to make accurate diagnoses based on carefully examined growth stages and plant health,” he says. “This is also a good time to see how well the foundation herbicide is performing and what weeds are emerging. If a foundation herbicide has not been used, then it is a critical time to determine when to pull the trigger on glyphosate.”

Insect pressure and damage also should be observed at this time. Utilize university trapping reports and be aware of environmental conditions that can boost insect populations.

Scouting a field just once in the season is not enough; Ferguson and Ruen recommend regular scouting to catch any issues early before they become a major problem.

“I would suggest establishing a routine and scouting every seven to 10 days. If you go out to scout on a Tuesday, then do the same thing the next week,” Ferguson says.

Ruen especially emphasizes monitoring herbicide performance.

“To check a postemergence application, go back into the field five to 10 days after spraying to determine if an additional application is necessary,” Ruen says. “Before the crop canopies, again go back into the field and note any unusual weed escapes and determine if they are due to a spray coverage issue or something more serious like herbicide resistance.”

The final crop check of the season comes at harvest. Note any lasting weed, insect or disease issues while driving the combine. Taking this final scouting trip will give growers a head start when scouting the following spring.

Learn more at http://www.dowagro.com.

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