Canola is most fragile during the first 21 days after emergence. The small plants are highly susceptible to flea beetles, cutworms, seedling diseases, weed competition and various other threats. Protecting the crop through this stage requires a watchful eye.
Walk into each newly emerged field and take a scan of hill tops, side slopes and low spots. Did the crop emerge evenly throughout the field and do the plants look healthy? If not, this is when you start looking for clues as to why.
Look at the above ground foliage. Are flea beetles the cause of missing plants and heavy damage? Has wind blown seedlings out of the dry ground? Did a hard frost hit the field? Or do yellowed, misshapen and weakened plants suggest herbicide carryover damage?
After the surface scan, start digging. Is seeding depth consistent? Do you see cutworms or wireworms? Are the roots healthy?
Scouting may be required every day for at-risk crops, especially if a threat such as flea beetles seems to be building. At a minimum get out to each field a couple times per week during this fragile period.
Growers may not have all the answers to problems they see. The key is to know your fields and get help when necessary. Below is an example of a one-page scouting check sheet to fill in with each visit to the field.