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Scouting: the resolution worth keeping

TAGS: Insects
Jack Bacheler/NCSU Jack Bacheler_NCSU_Scouting.jpg
A student worker at North Carolina State Universityi uses a sweep net to scout cotton.
Insects need to be scouted in field crops the entire season.

Of all the New Year’s resolutions a farmer can make, doing a better job of scouting certainly tops the list.

North Carolina State University Extension Entomologist Dominic Reisig has long-trumpeted the important role scouting plays in producing good yields. He encourages farmers to invest the money in hiring a consultant or a professional scout who is trained in identifying pests and can provide solutions that offer the best control.

In an email to me, Reisig makes it clear that most New Year’s resolutions are tough to keep, and scouting insects certainly fits the bill. But still, scouting is one chore that is well worth the effort. Reisig says insects need to be scouted in field crops the entire season.

“Take soybeans for example. I often get a slew of calls in August about plants lodging from three cornered alfalfa hopper. The problem is they should have been controlled when the plants were seedlings,” Reisig points out.

“Growers can only know if they are there if boots are in the field early in the season. Additionally, growers have increasingly complained of stink bug issues in soybeans. They can easily be controlled, but only if fields are scouted weekly from R3 to R8 on a field to field basis. Finally, most of our biggest insect issues in soybeans happen during August and September and scouting during this time is hot and miserable,” Reisig notes.

“Even though it’s tough, scouting and treating only when needed will usually be the most cost-effective solution for any grower. As farm sizes grow, margins tighten, and input costs rise, growers should think about hiring a consultant to do the scouting for them,” Reisig advises.

Each year when I go see my personal physician, Dr. John Burkard, for an exam, he offers good advice that will improve my health. I do my best to follow his advice because he is an expert and has my best interest at heart. In the same vein, when a respected plant doctor such as Dominic Reisig offers advice, farmers would do well to follow his prescription.

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