Crop scouting skills are essential for any farming operation to maximize crop production and economic returns. The University of Minnesota Extension 4-H program will kick off a new crop scouting event for youth this summer.

Set for Monday, July 29, at a crop research farm near Benson, Minn., the event aims to equip the next generation of farmers and agriculture-industry specialists with basic crop scouting and pest management skills helpful for any career in agriculture, environmental sciences or food production.

4-H and FFA teams (grades 7-12) will compete by testing their skills in troubleshooting agronomic issues and weed, insect and disease identification at hands-on field stations.

Teams should prepare by developing their knowledge and critical-thinking skills in pest management and agronomy of Minnesota’s common field crops. Teams should learn about topics such as insects, diseases, corn and soybean growth stages, sprayer technology, forages and basic agronomy.

The top two teams will qualify for the regional competition in Iowa. Teams interested in participating can sign up by June 1 at

Teams will receive a packet of resources such as field guides, publications and presentations to help prepare.

Those interested in coaching a team or assisting with or sponsoring the crop scouting competition can contact Brian McNeill at or 320-589-1711, ext. 2131.