WESTFIELD, Ind. — Scouting fields and monitoring crops throughout the growing season arms farmers with the information they need to make the best management decisions and stay on top of potential yield threats. Whether you’re in the season’s garden spot or facing weather challenges, there’s value in crop scouting, says LG Seeds National Agronomy Leader Kirsten Garriott.
“Scouting from the windshield won’t maximize your opportunity to find problems or capitalize on high yield potential,” says Garriott. “The more often farmers are in their fields, the more they’ll learn about what’s going right with their management plan and what changes need to be made.”
Garriott also emphasizes that although scouting isn’t a new idea, there are a host of modern technologies available to make scouting more effective and potential problems easier to identify. “A boots-on-the-ground approach has long been a cornerstone of in-season scouting, but technologies like field health imagery, NDVI [Normalized Difference Vegetation Index], soil genotyping and others can really help enhance the process.”
To help farmers with staging and scouting decisions, LG Seeds has published a corn scouting guide. The guide helps farmers determine when certain diseases, pests or nutrient deficiencies are likely to appear.
Scattered regional issues in 2023
While planting was mostly timely across the heart of the Corn Belt, Garriott says some farmers’ seed sat in the ground for a few weeks before it emerged. She urges those farmers to scout for seedling blight issues.
Garriott says farmers on the Plains have experienced different challenges. Where conditions have been extremely dry, farmers should be on watch for physiological plant responses to drought stress. “Stress response and the consequences of fallow ground should be top of mind,” she says. “Conversely, where some areas have received ample rainfall for the first time in several years, farmers should be on the lookout for disease and pest issues they may not have seen in a while.”
Another agronomic issue generating some buzz comes from Texas, where farmers are dealing with southern corn rootworm, an emerging threat for the state that’s also battling northern corn leaf blight. Texas has seen an increase in corn-on-corn acres, and southern corn rootworm overwinters well there. As a result, demand for the SmartStax® and Duracade®traits that control the pest is on the rise.
“LG Seeds is in a leading position when it comes to combating this pest. We offer unique, high-yielding germplasm with the Duracade® trait that has strong agronomics and performs well under a variety of management systems,” Garriott says.
Another area drawing attention is California. The state’s lengthy drought was broken by historic rainfall this spring, resulting in replants and some acreage shifts from other crops to corn. “California may face some agronomic issues they haven’t seen in a while as a consequence of the rainfall they received at the start of the season,” Garriott predicts. “It’s impossible to know it all, which is why it’s so important to actively scout fields and consult with your local LG Seeds agronomist.”
Seize opportunities to capture even more yield
Farmers in areas where crops are off to strong starts should make sure fertility isn’t a limiting factor. “Finding nothing except good-looking corn when you’re scouting is just as important and impactful as finding something unusual,” Garriott says. “Even if a field looks status quo, I encourage farmers to think about what they can do to intentionally manage toward top-end yield potential. Can you y-drop more nitrogen or is there a micronutrient opportunity? Look for anything that can take you up a level on that yield pyramid.”
Regardless of how your crops are faring, scouting is important. And so is putting what you find to work. “Data without action is meaningless,” Garriott points out. “If you see something unusual, lean on your trusted crop advisors to help you make decisions that’ll improve the outcome of the crop.”
— LG Seeds