Around the Farm – Crop Scouting & More

July 12, 2022

If you stop by our farm during the summer, you’re likely to find a flurry of different activities going on during any given day. We planted a little bit late this year due to the cool, wet weather so now we have to play catchup on a lot of the things we need to do.

As usual we are shipping grain over to the ethanol plant, cleaning equipment, and doing field work.

Our summer field work starts with spraying our crops to control weeds and we also deliver a little bit of nutrition to the plants when we make that pass. We then get a little bit of a break for doing some maintenance on the sprayer before we start applying our mid-season nitrogen.

We apply about one third of the nitrogen our corn crop needs during the middle of summer, a practice called side-dressing. Because our sprayer is really tall, we can apply our nitrogen pretty much anytime we want to. This allows us to change the amount of nitrogen we think we need based on factors like weather, markets, and plant tissue testing.

It’s a really neat view from the sprayer cab driving through our corn crop when it is about 7 or 8 feet tall. And, it’s a great way to do one of the most important jobs during the summer, crop scouting.

Crop scouting takes a few different forms around here. The first type we do is 55 mph scouting. We drive by and look at the fields and see if anything catches the eye. Any time we take a pass with the sprayer we are looking at the crop conditions.

Finally, the best way to scout is just walking the fields. When we walk a corn field, we look for anything that’s out of place. A short plant, missing plant, or plants that aren’t green are things that quickly get looked at. We also look at plants that are not consistent in height and try to figure out what is causing that so we can fix it next spring.

This year we’re seeing compaction show up clearly and we can see the areas that were a bit wet when we planted as well as a mechanical issue with a planter. Hopefully next spring the conditions are just a little better.

We also will start putting out corn rootworm traps this month and leave them into August. These traps will give us an idea of how heavy the rootworm pressure is which lets us make decisions for control for next year.

It’s also the time of year where we visit hybrid plots and start deciding what corn and soybeans we will plant next year.

Even with all this work to do, we try to have some time off for a Cubs game or go golfing in the summer.