Get Out And Scout, Kemo Sabe!

Nor' east Thinkin'

Don't let the weeds grow up behind you

Published on: June 1, 2010

This weekend, most of the Northeast’s corn and soybeans were out of the ground. In fact, the warm, humid weather has a lot of corn fields ready to start shooting skyward.

While it’s invigorating to watch (and hear?) the corn grow, getting out there and observing what’s happening throughout the fields is hugely important. That’s because weeds and insects also rapidly develop with the warm weather.

You are your best early warning system for trouble. And the sooner you catch developing problems, the quicker and cheaper you can solve them.

For a number of years, I went out on crop reporting surveys. And I learned a lot. Consider these scouting pointers:

  • When plant spacing and populations appear erratic, do some detective work to figure out why. Look for a repeating pattern. Seed costs are too expensive today to allow planting errors.
  • Are plants in some areas lighter green than others? Is it due to colder, wetter soils, or is nitrogen loss the culprit? Now’s the time to do your pre-sidedressing nitrate test, while you still have an application window.
  • It’s also a perfect time to see what weeds survived your herbicide program. If foxtail or other yield-robbers are popping up, you still have time to punch their lights out.
  • Once corn reaches waist high, it’s easy to measure out rows to assess plant populations per acre. My guess is that you’ll find higher populations the closer you get to where you finished planting. Reason: You throttled up a bit in anticipation of finishing.
  • If you go back into a field to count ear populations about two weeks after silking, you can come up with a pretty good idea of yield potential in a normal year.

In my finest example work, I came within one bushel of the average on our 120 acres of corn – 210 bushels of 15% moisture corn. Yep. That’s bragging. But if I can do it, I know you can too.

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