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How to Scout and Troubleshoot Problems in Crops

Get prepared

  • Gather tools that will help you acquire a sample
    • Cutters, small shovel, hand lens, plastic bags, marker, etc.
  • Go to the field with an open mind and investigate all possibilities!
    • Look at the big picture first, then the details


Know the crop you are working with

  • What does the crop normally look like
    • Is it appropriate for this stage in the planting
  • How does your crop compare


Recall important dates/events

  • Planting date
  • Any chemical applications
  • Weather conditions
    • Throughout the planting
    • During critical events
  • When problem appeared
    • Gradual or sudden
  • Soil history
    • Previous crop


Assess the site for symptoms

  • Single plant/entire planting
  • Only certain varieties
  • Wet/dry area
  • Sun/shade
  • Scattered
  • Pattern
    • Specific row(s)/edge of field/circular spots


Determine where problem is found on the plant(s)

  • Old growth/new growth
  • Bottom/top of plant
  • Whole plant/one side
  • Scattered


Identify parts of the plant that are affected

Use a hand lens to closely inspect for insects or spores (underside of leaves)

  • Leaves
  • Branches/twigs
  • Stem/stalk/trunk
  • Flowers/fruits/seeds
  • Seedlings
  • Roots
  • Whole plant


Observe Symptoms

  • Wilting
  • Yellowing/browning
  • Distortion/curling
  • Leaf spots
  • Stunting


Take a Sample

  • Include moderate symptoms or margin between healthy and affected
  • Fill out submission form
  • Submit to County Cooperative Extension Office


Nancy F. Gregory, Plant Diagnostician

Jen Rushton, Intern

Date: 8/16/2018

UD Cooperative Extension

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

In accordance with Federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy, Cooperative Extension is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability.