It’s the perfect time of year to get out and start scouting corn and soybean fields. Whether you’re looking for plant stand or seedling diseases, early growing season is one of the best times to see what’s going on with your plants while there’s still time to manage any issues that arise.
Growers know what populations were planted in their fields, but that doesn’t mean that’s what actually emerged. It’s important to determine what the stand count is right now so that there aren’t any surprises come harvest season. I recommend going out in multiple locations in the field and counting the equivalent of 1/1,000 of an acre. For example, if you planted 30-inch rows, you’re going to want to scout every 17 feet, five inches to count every plant. Say you counted 34 plants, that would mean you’re at a stand of about 34,000. Do this two to three times in each location so you have a good average sample of the field. And remember to adjust counting based on row spacing.
While you’re out scouting for plant stand, it’s also the perfect time to check fields for early seedling diseases. To start, you’re going to want to check areas where there’s been ponding or fields that have been susceptible to cooler temperatures. In Indiana and Ohio, we had some issues with colder temperatures, so it’s important for growers in our region to scout for seedling diseases that come about from slower plant development. Diseases such as phytophthora root rot, fusarium, Pythium and other seedling blights are diseases that can be detected this time of year. I recommend digging up a few plants in the areas you scout and really take a look at the base of the plant. Take note of how the root structure appears and if you see any discoloration. If you’re concerned the plant may have an early seedling disease, you can send plant samples off to the lab or contact your local Stine regional sales agronomist or district sales manager and they can take a look at it. Chances are if you catch the disease early enough, there’s still an opportunity to save yield.
Use this time in the field to also start scouting for nutrient deficiencies. Often times you can detect nutrient deficiencies by looking for discoloration of the plants as well as the pattern of the root system. If you see any areas of concern, again, take a tissue sample and send it off to the lab. The lab should be able to determine what exactly is missing as far as nutrients and how much is lacking from the plant. You may need to consider foliar applications, but fixing the problem now may prevent you from facing a bigger issue in the long run. And don’t forget to take notes of problem areas early on so you can continue to monitor those areas throughout the rest of the season. And when in doubt, contact your Stine regional sales agronomist or district sales manager.