Monitoring crop emergence during COVID-19 pandemic

What does the COVID-19 pandemic mean for farming? No pressure, but it means that this year’s crop is more critical than ever. There is already mounting concern about what the crisis will mean for the food supply chain and farm labour.

Lucky for us, the American grower is accustomed to adversity and has consistently demonstrated the ability to adapt accordingly and overcome it. US growers are so resilient because they know the importance of a good strategy and a strong start to the season. So as growers plan for a period of uncertainty and turbulence, let us look at the role of emergence and how to make the best use of technology to ensure a solid season.

The importance of starting strong

The entire genetic potential of a crop exists within a tiny seed. From the moment of planting, that seed faces environmental challenges as it develops and grows. It is literally under attack from the moment it is planted in the earth.

Fortunately, we have access to great technologies that increase the odds of the seed developing into a healthy and robust plant. Well maintained and calibrated planters can help ensure the seed is planted at the proper depth and population. Seed treatments help protect and nourish the young plant from the earliest stages and automated irrigation systems ensure that the seed is cultivated as needed.

Challenges and setbacks

Even still, growers will experience challenges and setbacks during the critical emergence period. Once planting has begun, the clock begins to tick, and growers only have so much time to monitor for issues and take corrective action. Traditionally, it takes substantial manpower and time to accurately assess all the acreage for emergence issues.

This season, however, will be different. The COVID-19 pandemic will continue to have ripple effects throughout the country. While many aspects of agriculture may be somewhat shielded from the impact, the reality is that restrictions and social distancing have reduced the availability and consistency of labor. So how do we overcome and adapt to this new environment?

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