Wednesday, May 6, 2009


I have always enjoyed walking fields figuring out what caused what I am seeing. That is rewarding when you raise a good crop but scratch your head when it doesn't. There is real money in scouting on the crop end.

I started scouting for a fee in 1985 when I lined up a job for one of my students for the summer while going to college. He called me and said he had an offer to tour with Elsie the cow all summer and part time and couldn't take the job I lined up for him.

So, I took the job and still scout for Ohio Certified Seed. I taught the boys to scout with me even though they were little and it grew into a full time business by 94 when Mark needed an SAE for FFA and HyMark was born. It took him through high school and the stage at Louisville as National Emerging Technology Finalist.

An old nemesis was on the interview committee and Mark never won but he was one of 4 National Finalists. Mark was sure he won after the questions he was asked and Mark answered. The nemesis was a high flying agronomist at the time and now is out of business. Hmmm...

Just got home about dark last night and a neighbor called. He asked if I would look at his Orchard Grass planting and help find out what is wrong with it. I said, "sure, we might be able to do one more field before dark." I pulled the tissue samples while he pulled the soil samples in an X pattern. I posted the problem on Crop Talk after I got home last night.

"Sable and I just scouted the nastiest looking new stand of orchard grass I ever saw. It was planted last year and is as yellow as can be, ankle to knee high, looks like it might have been injected with a poison like stinkbugs do or something like that.

Does Timothy mite infect orchardgrass? The old stand is beautiful.

We pulled a soil and tissue sample but it has me stumped. Looks denitrified and almost stunted to me, color is poor, 4 out of 10.

Any ideas out there from my forage friends?

RR beans before it was planted so no carryover concerns.



Even though we were all tired, Sable was ready for one more jaunt through a field. She had a blast chasing bugs and rabbits. She is a great scouting dog, surveys the area just ahead before you get there, always stays near but just far enough away.

This morning I see I have a bunch of good suggestions for my problem. The Internet Forums have become invaluable for troubleshooting ideas.

You can say crop scouting changed my life. It led to changing the way I farm and how I help others to farm successfully and even led me to LuAnn. Seriously, it did.

That is another long list of blogs I am not prepared to share at this time.

Farmers and gardeners, hope you can plant soon if not today.

Ed Winkle


  1. Billbugs killed our orchardgrass.

    Same symptoms as you have.