Some planters have rolled already. Hopefully all planters will get a chance to go soon. With a wet early spring and dates for best planting rapidly fading, it's almost assured this will be another year where watching what happens in your fields after you plant will pay big dividends.
Purdue University's Crop Diagnostic Training Lab, with help from several departments in the College of Agriculture, have various tools available that can make crop scouting easier and more enjoyable this spring, notes Corey Gerber, director of the Diagnostic Training Center.
First, if you don't have a Corn & Soybean Field Guide, pocket edition for 2009, or if you don't do business with a company who is providing them to customers to use, then you still have time to order a copy. Sales have been brisk, insiders say, likely signaling the fact that producers realize scouting might help reduce the need to spray at various times. Cutting down on inputs became the obvious mantra of this up coming crop season, and was very evident when interest in soil sampling far outweighed demand for fertilizer to be applied last fall.
To find out how to get your own 2009 pocket guide, visit: www.agry.purdue.edu/agry/dtc/Pages/default.aspx. When companies pass out the guides, the color of the book often is customized for the company, and the cover or back cover may bear the company's logo. Still, the information inside the guide is the same as in those who would purchase from Purdue.
Next, consider attending one of four open days at the Training Center, located at the Purdue Agronomic Research Center, just off U.S. Highway 52 west of West Lafayette. There's one in each time of the year, Gerber notes. Other sessions are purchased by companies, either to be used by their own employees or by invited guests- often farmers. Dates are May 20, June 16 and July 14. Registration is $100 each. There is also a final one on September 3, at $80 per person. Learn mroe4 at www.agry.edu/dtc.
Purdue also offers opportunities for reviewing problem situations through its plant disease and pest lab. Either actual samples of plant material or digital photos can be sent. Even if you send digital photos, the staff still prefers to get plant samples as well. The camera is just another way to provide more clues to researchers trying to decipher what might be wrong in a field where they have never been before.
If you suspect nematode problems in corn or soybeans, you may want to consider sending samples to Purdue's Nematology Lab. Learn about it and more at: www.entm.purdue.edu/nematology/cv/submissionform.pdf.