Dennis and I like to walk through our test plot pre-harvest to get a feeling for how varieties are performing ahead of combining them. The rains this year presented a challenge in getting this done in a timely manner. We exited the field with a large amount of mud on our boots.
While surveying the plot we do a stand count to see what percent of our planted stand put on a harvestable ear. We also look for health problems that are presenting themselves. This will give us an idea of what’s going on in the fields that are planted to a particular variety that’s also in the test plot. If a plant has stalk weakness or ears are already hanging down, then we know that we’ll need to keep a close eye on the field we’ve planted that variety in. If that variety isn’t in the field, we probably won’t consider it for planting another year. This is a great reason to have your own test plot rather than just looking at numbers on paper!
Early August is prime time for scouting for soybean aphids. We try to get through our soybean fields with the pickup so we can thoroughly scout. Our 2005 Toyota Tundra is about 4 inches narrower than a full size pickup so it fits well down the 30 inch soybean rows. The high clearance is easy on the tall beans. We did push it a little too late this year though and drove down some beans that were starting to lodge.
In early June we spend time scouting fields for issues we may need to deal with such as weed control, plant health and field conditions.
In this field we have identified areas of concern where the corn plant stand was thin due to wet soil conditions during and after planting. Not all seeds emerged thus lowering the potential yield from these areas of the field. We took some photos as one tool to later remedy the problem. Combining this knowledge with past observations and the upcoming harvest data will allow us to formulate a tiling plan that will help avert this situation in the future.
Taking time to identify areas of thin stands due to poor drainage is important when deciding where to best invest money in field drainage tile.