Pre-season Advice: Put On Your Walking Shoes!
Diagnosing crop problems and preventing future problems requires walking fields, says to Bob Nielsen, Purdue Extension corn specialist, who adds that written records also are critical. "Attempting to conduct a post-mortem diagnosis during harvest in mid-October for a problem that occurred in midsummer is often impossible," Nielsen says.
He says the first step in troubleshooting problems is walking fields. "There is no substitute for getting out of the truck and into your fields when it comes to successfully diagnosing crop problems," he says. "Get out there often. The important thing is to diagnose the problem as soon as possible, because the evidence often disappears as seeds or plants rot away. For example, wireworm damage to a corn kernel is impossible to diagnose after the kernel has rotted away."
Nielsen says such tours are especially important EARLY.
"Stand establishment--germination, emergence and seedling growth --is critical for ensuring maximum yield potential for most agronomic crops," he says. "Failure to successfully establish a vigorous, uniform stand of plants almost always limits yield from the very beginning of the season.
"Invariably, the factor that most limits a good crop-problem diagnosis is inadequate cropping records. So many times when I am in the middle of a field wondering about a crop problem, I have the feeling that I am missing a critical piece of the puzzle."
A thorough record list is a long one. It includes:
* Tillage operations this year and last.
* Pesticide applications this year and last.
* Soil sample analyses.
* Rainfall this year and previous year.
* Previous crop.
* Planting dates.
* Where different varieties were planted.
* Seed quality of the varieties planted.
* Planting depth.
* Soil moisture before, during and after planting.
* Soil temperature at planting.
* Temperatures in general after planting.
* Pesticides applied to an adjoining field.
* Any additional pertinent information.
Finally, Nielsen recommends that producers get help as soon as possible when they notice a problem that they can't explain or solve.