We have implemented an intensive scouting plan on select plots on our farm in order to evaluate crop potential and also so we can better understand what and when the crop needs are.
This started with a flag test (some call it late emerger test). As plants emerged, we flagged them each day for three days. Every day was given a different color flag. This visually shows how even the emergence was.
Except for a cold spell when we had very few GDUs, we are happy with the emergence.
Soil and tissue tests
The second step of our intensive scouting is taking regular soil and tissue tests. The first set has returned. We are evaluating the nutrient status in the plants and soil. We will determine what the plant needs and how to feed it. We have nitrogen and herbicide applications in progress and can add can add product to feed through the soil or foliar.
To increase our understanding, plots were purposely selected in differing conditions. Some were irrigated, some were not. Some were corn following corn, some rotation, and some following cover crops. Some were conventional tillage, some strip till, and some only vertical tillage. We hope to be able to find a trends and over time unlock the yield mystery on our farm.
General scouting reports are beginning to come in regularly. This differs from the intensive scouting as the entire field is scouted rather than a pin drop. There have been some reports of army worms, seedling blight and some soil crusting. Generally fields look a bit on the ragged side. Plants don’t seem to be taking in nutrients well as it has been a couple weeks since a rain.
Anywhere we have irrigation and have made the nitrogen application we are running a third to half an inch depth in order to get the fertilizer into the soil profile. We will begin full scale irrigation today on our lightest farms.
The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Penton Agriculture.