“There are numerous factors that can impact a developing crop,” says Mark Cutts, crop specialist, Alberta Ag-Info Centre.
“Scouting can help producers understand what is occurring in their fields and help them make proper management decisions.”
At this time of the growing season, he says that field scouting can provide information on the effectiveness of herbicide applications.
“Scouting after a herbicide application will show producers if the weeds were adequately controlled. In the majority of cases, producers will find that the chemicals have worked. However in certain situations, field scouting may show the weeds weren’t properly controlled and producers can start to evaluate what might have caused the problem.”
A difference in the pattern of weed escapes can indicate poor performance of a herbicide due to environmental conditions or that herbicide resistant weeds may be present.
“If the weeds that escaped the herbicide application are found throughout the entire field, it can point to limited herbicide effectiveness due to environmental conditions such as low temperatures,” he adds. “However, if the weeds are found in isolated patches, this may be a herbicide resistance issue. If unsure of the cause, contact an agronomist or chemical company representative to discuss the possible causes of the weed escapes.”
Scouting of crops at this time also allows producers to assess disease development.
“For example,” says Cutts, “Barley leaf diseases such as scald and net blotch move from the older leaves to the newer leaves as the growing season progresses. If leaf diseases are present and environmental conditions remain favourable for disease development, a fungicide application may be necessary once the crop has reached the flag leaf stage.
At this time of the growing season, producers can evaluate a number of insect pests and recently emerged insects.
“Another example – as head emergence occurs on wheat crops, producers should regularly monitor for wheat midge. In canola as flowering starts, producers can start to evaluate the presence of cabbage seedpod weevil.”