Crop Scouting Competition

A competition that prepares you for life
Crop Scouting Competition

Students in the 2021 Crop Scouting Competition identify a weed. Photo by Erika Parker.

The Illinois Crop Scouting Competition is a one-day contest that gives teams of students from across the state the chance to test their knowledge live and in the field.

Crop scouting is an important skill for anyone dealing with commercial crops that can lead to higher yields and increased profit per acre. Scouting gives farmers a heads-up about what is happening in the field - from crop growth stages to the presence of insects or weeds - allowing them to strategically apply the best management decisions. 

Student teams of 2 to 5 high-school-aged youth with an adult coach rotate through 10 outdoor stations at the University of Illinois South Farm fields to test their skills hands-on with topics such as identifying weeds, insects, and diseases, identifying the growth stages of corn and soybean plants, assessing abiotic injury, pesticide application, and integrated pest management.

Teams are scored by judges - University faculty, graduate students, specialists, and Extension educators - with cash prizes for the top scores. The top two teams will also advance to compete against students in other states and represent Illinois at the Regional Competition.

Ready to see what’s in the field? 

  • Work together in a fun, hands-on environment
  • Engage with university agricultural experts
  • Win prizes and leave with bragging rights!

2023 Competition Details

2023 Program Sponsors and Supporters:


  • Illinois Soybean Association (2022) 
  • Illinois Certified Crop Advisors (2022) 
  • Growmark (2021) 
  • Illinois Corn (2021, 2022) 
  • Illinois Farm Bureau (2021) 
  • ProHarvest seeds, Eric Yoder (2021) 
  • East Central IL DeKalb/Asgrow Team (2021) 
  • Teejet
  • Department of Crop Sciences at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  • College of ACES at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign



Once registered, teams should work with their coach to study regularly leading up to the competition. Review the below materials to help prepare.

  • IPM Curriculum: Integrated pest management presentations are available in both PDF and PowerPoint formats and includes notes. Provided by Iowa State University.
  • Virtual Crop Scout School: The Virtual Crop Scout School consists of webinars from crop protection specialists at 11 Midwest universities and is offered through the Crop Protection Network. The series is free, registration is required to access.

Potential topics include, but are not limited to: identification and information about crop diseases, insects, weeds, abiotic disorders, herbicide injury, growth stages, parts of the plant, degree day computation, sprayer calibration, and sprayer issues. There will also be a test on crop scouting.