Williston Research Extension Center


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Crop Scouting Program

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In collaboration with NDSU main campus in Fargo, the Williston REC conducts a crop scouting program in barley, HRSW, winter wheat, durum, soybean, and sunflower.

This is the fifth year that the WREC has had an IPM crop scout.

Unfortunately we are unable to conduct pulse scouting in 2017, however, we hope to continue the pulse scouting program in 2018.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is crop scouting?

Crop scouting is a very simple concept.  It is just carefully examining fields on a regular basis for potential issues.  That also typically involves quantifying the problem to determine if the issue is severe enough to warrant action. Some crop scouts look for all issues including abiotic problems (nutrient deficiency, herbicide damage etc), weeds, insect pests and diseases. Our program focuses on diseases and insect pests. 

What does the IPM or pulse crop scout do?

The crop scout travels to each of the five counties every week from late May to mid August and scouts 8-10 fields per day.  This involves sweeping the fields for insects such as grasshoppers, and scouting 10 plants at 5 locations within the fields for diseases, aphids and/or thrips depending on the crop.  We typically walk a "W" pattern, where each line of that W is 100 meters. Therefore, we walk a fairly small area of the field, but do our best to get a representative sample. 

Where can I access the results of the scouting?

The results are published weekly in the NDSU Crop and Pest report available online here: https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/cpr

You can also subscribe to the Crop and Pest Report by submitting your email address on that website. Unfortunately, we do not have the resources to accommodate requests for individual reports during the growing season, however, if we see a serious disease or pest problem in your field we will alert you.

All of the maps of the scouting data are published on this site  https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/ndipm

Just click the different crops to see the maps associated with each one.

What do I need to do to participate?

We recruit producers for the scouting program during the spring (March-May).  We request permission to scout your fields and collect from you the field location, the current years crop and the last years crop.  We like to know the previous years crop because that can tell us if a particular rotation is more or less conducive to disease or insect pest build up. Two to three fields per crop is plenty for us. GPS coordinates or a legal description is sufficient for us to locate a field.  Other than the time required to help us locate your fields at the beginning of the season, there is no time investment on your part for the IPM scout program unless you choose to come and watch us work. It may be an opportunity for you to learn more about how to scout, and thus may be of interest of you to do so. 

If you would like to participate, please call the WREC and ask for the Plant Pathologist, Dr. Audrey Kalil.  

What does this cost me?

This program is supported by grant money and therefore free to you.

What diseases and insects are we looking for?

The specific diseases and insect pests we are looking for vary with the crops except for grasshoppers which we quantify in all crops.  For wheat, winter wheat and durum we look for foliar diseases like tan spot, wheat streak mosaic virus, rust, powdery mildew and bacterial leaf blight.  At heading we look for Fusarium Head Blight (scab), Ergot, smuts, bunts and wheat stem maggot damage. We sweep for wheat stem sawfly, and examine plants for aphids and cereal leaf beetle. In barley we look for similar foliar and head diseases except we also look for net blotch, spot blotch and scald. We also scout barley for thrips and barley yellow dwarf virus. In Sunflower we scout for downy mildew, rust and Verticillium wilt. In Soybean we scout for bean leaf beetle and spider mites.  If we see disease symptoms, we take a sample and submit it to Dr. Sam Markell for analysis. 

In the peas and lentils during the 2016 season, we looked for root rot symptoms early in the season and foliar symptoms of disease later on. Some foliar diseases will include Ascochyta Blight, Powdery Mildew, Downy mildew, Bacterial Blight, Anthracnose, Stemphylium Blight, viruses, and white mold (Sclerotinia). Insect pests include aphids, grasshoppers, cutworms and Lygus bugs.

How do I benefit from this program?

There are many indirect and direct benefits of having this scouting program available.  One direct benefit is that someone will be in your field on an approximately bi-weekly basis keeping an eye on disease and pest problems, and will alert you if pests or disease are severe.  You will also be able to view the data in the Crop and Pest Report to see where disease is occurring state wide.  This may help you predict whether a disease or insect pest will be a problem in the near future. Another benefit is that you have a crop scout that is accessible for questions.  If you'd like to know how to scout for a certain disease or pest, we are happy to help.

An indirect benefit is that this survey gives NDSU pathologists and entomologists an idea of what are the biggest disease problems.  That allows us to identify areas where research is lacking, and fill in these gaps to improve pest and disease management recommendations.

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