Scouting Your Corn Fields

Larry Veith, Seed Specialist, Plainview/St Charles (507) 923-5628

There is never a dull moment for a producer when it comes to growing corn or soybeans. Starting with your planning during the winter months to the finality of harvest in the fall, there are always decisions to make along the way that can affect the final crop and its profitability to your operation. Scouting your fields throughout the year is just one of the many management strategies you can employ to make sure you are maximizing your efforts and dollars spent. In this article, I will highlight some of the early season things you can do to better manage this year’s crop as well as beginning to plan for next year.

Once planting is complete, take some time to check every field for proper emergence. Make notes of anything that appears out of the ordinary. Uneven emergence, faster or slower seedling growth, and any sign of abnormalities going on in the field should be noted. If something appears troublesome, do NOT hesitate to contact your Progressive Ag Center agronomist or seed specialist to accurately confirm the potential problem, as well as noticing and confirming POSITIVE events in the field that are worth noting and repeating in upcoming years.

Several KEY items to be looking at when checking your fields include, but are not limited to:

  • Variety
  • Planting date
  • Planting depth
  • Crop symptoms, good or bad
  • Soil type and crop response to it
  • Topography of the area of concern
  • Fertility levels
  • Pesticides applied
  • Soil moisture
  • Compaction
  • Unusual air temperatures
  • Previous crop
  • Types of weeds

Having these variables in mind will help clarify your focus on what may or may not be affecting your crop.

A few handy items to always have with you include your cell phone for taking pictures, save those pictures taken and mark with flags to keep track of specific areas that are affected to find them later on. Also have along, a shovel for digging, a tape measure, a magnifying glass and a few plastic bags for placing questionable specimens into that you may want to take to someone else for confirmation. Record your information to use as a reference for later in the season to either confirm an issue or support your initial thoughts from earlier in the growing season. By doing these things you will not only have a better understanding of why you got the crop you did, but also ways to improve for future.

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