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Brush Up Field Scouting Skills During The Winter Months

Whether you scout your own fields or have someone do the leg work for you, the value of the information being reported out is directly related to the quality of the information going in. Winter is a great time to start this preparation. Here is a short list of things that can be done in the cold months to contribute to scouting success during the growing season.

  • Document problem areas in the field that were identified during harvest.
  • Brush-up on growth stages of plants, weeds and insects.
  • Assemble resources and references that can be used during the growing season.
  • Learn about new weeds, insects or diseases.
  • Know the resistant pests in Michigan and how to identify them.

Resources are available through Michigan State University Extension to help you prepare for the 2013 crop year. One that is particularly suited to this topic is the 2013 Integrated Pest Management Academy, Feb. 19-20, at the Okemos Conference Center in Okemos, Mich.

This two-day academy will address the weather challenges of the 2012 production season with the help of Dr. Jonathan Comstock from Cornell University’s Department of Horticulture. He will address shifting weather patterns and the related impacts affecting agricultural producers. Comstock is a climate change expert and is co-author of both the Agriculture and Ecosystems chapters of the recent New York ClimAID Report, which looks at climate change vulnerabilities and adaptation strategies. MSU experts will also be on-hand to discuss irrigation, frost protection and changing weather patterns in Michigan.

On the second day of the event, participants will opt into two, half-day sessions on the topics of their choice. “Scouting Techniques for Field Crops and Forages” is a morning session where participants will learn the basics of scouting for diseases, weeds and insects. We will discuss growth stages, life cycles, weather and time and see how each of these impacts pests. In the afternoon, we will discuss emerging issues in field crop pesticide resistance.