In-Season Decisions

Originally written February 1, 2006 | Last updated March 03, 2014

The life-cycle and growing season of crop plants utilizes all available management strategies, including cultural, pest management, physical, biological and chemical options to prevent economically damaging pest outbreaks and to reduce risks to human health and the environment. Plants are subjected to a combination of stresses. Stresses are researched intensely individually; combinations are less so. Examples of abiotic stress include: cool wet soils, chilling, freezing, heat, water (flood and drought), wind, hail, nutrients, ozone, ultra-violet radiation, and salinity. Biotic factors include: neighbor competition for resources (inter- and intra-plant competition), diseases, insects, weeds, nematodes, etc. In a field, even more combinations of stresses can be occurring due to "patchiness" of abiotic and biotic stresses interacting with soil and micr-climate.

In-season management decisions are a continuum of management practices that range from simple field scouting to biointensive, integrated approaches which utilize a systems approach to crop and pest management. Action thresholds have been incorporated into many programs to assist with the decision making process. Economic thresholds have been developed for crops where yield is the primary concern. For pests, the economic threshold is that pest level at which control practices must be implemented to prevent economic damage (i.e. cost of control is less than expected damage).  For abiotic factors, similar damage estimates have been estimated to determine impacts on yield .

We cannot control everything. Our focus needs to be on management through hybrid/variety selection, pest management options, tillage, irrigation, and fertilizer application. Consideration must be given to how one management practice impacts other components of the system.

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