he 2002 crop season is rapidly approaching. For some, it has already begun with topdress fertilizing of wheat, pre-plant anhydrous application for corn, and general fieldwork as days become warmer and soils dry sufficiently for tillage operations. For those of us who regularly work with producers in diagnosing crop problems, now is a good time to gear up for the coming season by replenishing our minds with crop production knowledge that may have been flushed out over the winter months.
Good crop diagnostic skills begin with serious pre-season homework that reduces the chance of being caught by surprise when crop problems subsequently occur and that may allow you to better fearmonger (predict) about impending calamities. Take the time to refresh yourself on the basics of crop growth & development, current crop varieties, important insect and disease pests of crops in your geographic area, nutrient deficiencies, weed identification, herbicide modes of action, herbicide crop injury symptoms, and herbicide label restrictions. Become familiar with new pesticides, genetics and other emerging technologies. Pay special attention to those early season aspects of crop production since that is the part of the growing season that is approaching.
Sources of information are plentiful and you probably already have your personal library of useful crop production references. Take the time to pull them off the bookshelf and browse through their contents. A few of my favorite references include:
(To order the Purdue Extension publications mentioned in this article, call Purdue Extension toll-free at (888) 398-4636 (EXT-INFO) and ask for the Media Distribution Center. Orders also may be placed online at www.agcom.purdue.edu/AgCom/mdc/distrib.html .)
Dont forget about the wealth of information available directly on the Web. You can search for and wade through the overwhelming amount of crop production information on the Web yourself with a search engine like www.google.com, or surf the Web more efficiently by visiting one of the following sites that offer compilations of the best agricultural information that the Web offers.
The better prepared you become prior to the season, the better enabled you will be to diagnose those challenging crop problems that will most certainly arise as they always do every year.