April 03, 2017

Scouting Tips

With the arrival of spring, it’s time to make sure the efforts you made selecting your wheat seed variety and planting pay off. Scouting your fields for weeds, diseases and pests is a vital way to help protect your yield potential. The following techniques will help you scout your fields as efficiently as possible to help ensure your season ends strong.

Use Available Technology

If aerial or satellite imagery is available, utilize it before putting boots on the ground. It will make scouting much more effective since problem areas are easier to identify from above. There are also applications for your tablet or phone that can support scouting and make the process easier for you.

Know Conditions in Your Area

It is a good idea to keep current on disease, insect and weather forecasts, as this will help you to know when to be on the lookout and what to look for. If there are reports of rust or insects in neighboring areas, it is likely that these issues may be present in your field.

Scout Early in the Day

Many insects are nocturnal and are harder to find at midday. Scouting in the morning will help you identify pests that may not be apparent later.

Take Immediate Note of Discrepancies

As you drive into the field, look for inconsistencies and for anything that looks out of place—off colors, weeds, bare spots in the field, lodging, water stress—and note where in the field you see these discrepancies.

Search the Canopy

Once you get to the field, look under the canopy for insects and disease as well as at the places you noted on the drive in. Diseases that favor high-humidity conditions will be easier to locate within the canopy, and this will help you identify issues before it is too late.

Check Fields by Elevation

Low areas are much more likely to experience freeze and disease since cold air and fog tend to settle in that part of the field, while high areas stay warmer and will dry out more quickly, reducing disease potential.

Bring a Camera

Take pictures to identify the issues you see and communicate to others what is going on in the area. If you see it in your field, chances are that others have already seen it or need to be on the lookout for it. It also helps to document field conditions and pests because samples collected have a limited lifespan. Take photos from all angles to get a good representation of the issue and document date, time and a GPS location for easy reference.

Have a Plan

Check fields on a schedule. One run-through of the field is not scouting; regular scheduled checks are needed to prevent issues. To ensure you see a wide spread of the field, utilize the Z or W technique when walking. Many diseases start in hot spots and spread quickly. Just checking the field edges can result in missing potential problematic areas.

Carry Sample Bags

It’s a good idea to collect samples of insects, diseases or weeds that you do not recognize for proper identification. Gathering representative samples of the pests will allow you to talk to your seed supplier or local agronomist to accurately diagnose the problem.

Take Notes

Records are important for documenting information that can be referenced in the future. Keep a notebook handy or utilize an electronic tablet application. Document date, time and an accurate GPS location for easy reference. 

About WestBred® Wheat

WestBred® wheat provides seed suppliers and their growers access to the highest yield potential wheat seed, as well as testing, education, resources and experienced representatives to help maximize their yield potential.