Last week I listened to a panel assembled by The National Garden Bureau discuss this topic. Panelists included employees from Johnny’s, Seminis (Bayer), Harris, Syngenta, Jung, and Botanical Interests seed companies. The short answer to the seed shortage question was yes, 3 to 7% of cultivars—especially cultivars new for this season—may be out of stock. A website often doesn’t show how soon seed will be restocked. Restocking may take only a week if seed still available in a warehouse, or buyers may have to wait 3 to 9 months until the next seed crop is harvested.
The reasons for the seed shortage were mainly related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including labor shortages of dock workers to unload shipments of seed produced in Asia and workers at seed processing facilities in rural areas. Another reason is the 3-year timeframe seed producers use when they decide how many acres of a given cultivar to plant. Increased demands for vegetable and flower seeds of 100% and 70%, respectively, mean existing seed stocks are being used up faster than expected in 2020-2021.
Several panelists suggested buyers substitute similar cultivars for out-of-stock cultivars. For growers in the South purchasing seed for vegetable crops, it’s important to find a cultivar with a similar harvest date. In the spring, heat-sensitive crops like beans and radishes need to mature quickly for optimum yields and quality. In the fall, earliness may be important for cold-sensitive cucumbers and squash. Be sure to substitute another early maturing cultivar if the desired early cultivar is not available.
Finally, a tip I heard: carrot seed is likely to be in short supply in 2022, because carrot is a biennial that flowers in the second year of growth (if not eaten before then!).
Don’t forget to check out the Upcoming Events page for all the meetings coming up over the next couple months. The next meetings will be the 2nd and 3rd peach sessions on Thursday 3/4. We hope to see you there!
Also, join us Tuesday from 11:30 to 12:00 for the new, weekly “SC Grower Exchange” where we’ll discuss a little more about what’s going on in the fields and take questions from the audience. Click here to join the discussion via Zoom.
Rob Last reports, “Following a few days of warmer conditions, crops are moving on strongly. Flowering and fruit set is occurring in strawberry crops. At present spider mites in treated crops are at very low populations, but with warmer weather, populations can increase rapidly. As we are entering flowering and fruit set, sanitation and fungicide applications will be required to keep gray mold managed. Remember to rotate FRAC codes to avoid resistance build up. Fertigation is being applied and it will be well worth while taking a tissue test from crops. Blueberries in the area are showing bud swell with early varieties showing open flower.”
Zack Snipes reports, “With the warm and DRY weather last week and for most of the week this week, farmers have been able to get out and work in the fields. Spring crops are going in the ground where it is dry enough to plant. The warm weather this past week and this coming week will probably push 2020 brassicas to bolt (flower). If you have any left in the fields, it might be best to get them out as soon as possible. Stay on top of sanitation for berries and it’s time to start fertigating them if you haven’t started that already.”
Justin Ballew reports, “We had several beautiful, warm days last week. Strawberry growers used that opportunity to pull the row covers off the fields, allowing the plants to catch some rays. Growth is starting to pick up and I’m seeing a good many blooms. The weather conditions are favorable now for Botrytis development (high moisture and temps in the 60s-70s), so we need to begin protecting our blooms with preventative fungicide sprays. Check out this great video put together by Dr. Guido Schnabel’s former student Madeline Dowling for a refresher on the Botrytis life cycle. Download the MyIPM app for more disease and fungicide information. Now is also a good time to start tissue sampling to make sure we’re fertigating the right amounts of nutrients.
Sarah Scott reports, “Growers took advantage of some sunny, dry weather and continued to apply copper and dormant oil sprays in peach fields to combat potential bacterial spot issues, as well as scale in the coming season. Pruning and orchard floor management continue as well as some late planting, due to wet field conditions. Strawberries have been covered to give them a pre-season push. Some mite issues are present but under control.”
Kerrie Roach reports, “Growers are working between the rains to finish up pruning. The SC Apple Grower meeting was held on Thursday afternoon virtually with lots of great presentations and discussion. During the meeting, Dr. Mike Parker (NCSU) mentioned the distinct difference in apple and peach pruning, and how using the same crews can sometimes lead to problems. Peaches fruit laterally along limbs which means heading cuts (pruning off the tip of a branch) is the common and acceptable practice. Where as apples fruit terminally, so heading cuts could potentially remove a significant amount of potential fruit. Make sure crews are well aware of the difference!”
Don’t forget to check out the Upcoming Events page for all the meetings coming up over the next couple months. The next meeting will be this Thursday (2/25) from 2-4 pm about Apple Production. We hope to see you there!
Zack Snipes reports, “Another rainy, wet, and cold week last week. Some sunshine and warmer temperatures coming this week. All of our fruit crops have received their chill hours and are just waiting to burst out for spring. I expect to really see fruit crops take off this week. Make sure that you have a fertility plan for the spring crop. Don’t let your crop be without fertility at the critical moments. For more information on fruit fertility visit https://smallfruits.org/ipm-production-guides/. For smaller farms, Clemson’s Home Garden and Information Center is a wonderful resource as well.”
Justin Ballew reports, “To say last week was wet would be an understatement. We received about 4 inches of rain at my house last week and the ground was already saturated before it started. I’ve seen water standing even in sandy fields. On the bright side, irrigation ponds are looking full. Most strawberry growers have covered their fields to protect the blooms now. This means we should start seeing our first ripe fruit around mid-March. Don’t forget to start tissue sampling so we can make sure the plants are getting everything they need as they are beginning to produce fruit.”
Bruce McLean reports, “Wet, wet, wet… Last week’s rain has cause some significant ponding and flooding throughout the Pee Dee. Last week, I had a number of conversations with growers concerning application of fumigants for early crops – timing, too wet, how effective? Not a lot of good options with soil moisture being so high, right now. We really need some sunshine and a steady breeze to help dry fields out. Wet fields are preventing spraying, hindering application of row covers and hindering pruning of perennial crops (blueberries, muscadines, and blackberries). Some crops are starting to “back up” due to the wet soils. An application of mefenoxam (Ridomil) or phosphorous acid (K-phite), in locations where root rot is suspected, would be beneficial.”
Kerrie Roach reports, “A beautiful weekend of weather was much needed for tree fruit growers getting in orchards and finishing up dormant pruning for the year. Pruning out dead, diseased, and damaged limbs, opening the canopy, and reducing overall vegetative growth is extremely important for tree fruit integrated pest management (IPM). Pruning increases light penetration and air movement, reducing disease potential, and also allows for better spray coverage during application. More rain today and even more projected toward the end of the week will continue to delay any kind of field work, as the ground is oversaturated. Don’t forget, this Thursday is the SC Apple Grower Meeting via Zoom from 2-4pm! Check it out on the upcoming events page!
Andy Rollins reports, “Found major scale problem on large scale muscadine producer’s farm. Scale was identified on the main scaffolds and also on last years wood. Mineral oil (Damoil) is labeled but is recommended at much lower rate than other fruits. Only 1% by volume or 1 gallon per 100 gallons of water, but needs 200 gallons of total solution applied per acre to get sufficient coverage. This is because the oil needs to get into very tight areas where the scale can reside. We also recommended the use of a labeled insecticide with the oil to increase efficacy. Once the plants come out of dormancy other products are available but determination will be made at that time if necessary. Peach and strawberry production had no major issues to address. One strawberry farm began picking the last week of January this year in high tunnel production and picked 30 flats of fruit and is still producing.
Don’t forget to check out the Upcoming Meetings page for all the meetings coming up over the next couple months. There are 2 coming up this week: Strawberry Fertility Wednesday (2/17) and Produce Safety Rule Training on Thursday and Friday afternoon (2/18 and 2/19). We hope to see you there!
Zack Snipes reports, “I haven’t been out in the fields lately due to all of the rain. Hopefully it will dry out some this week as we really need some bluebird sky days. If and when you are able to get out in the strawberry fields, it is time to put out boron. Boron helps with flower and fruit development. If you miss this application you will have lots of “bull nose” fruit in a few weeks. We recommend 1/8 lb of actual boron. Please see the picture for calculations of different products. Be extremely careful with mixing, calibrating, and applying boron as boron is a great herbicide if overapplied. Boron can be sprayed or run through the drip system.
Justin Ballew reports, “It’s been raining a lot since Thursday (2/11) here in the midlands. The soil is saturated in some of the less sandy areas and it will be a while before fields are dry enough to work. Sandier areas likely won’t be delayed much. Before the rain came, folks were harvesting some nice looking greens, though I am seeing some disease pop up in places. Strawberries are still coming along. I know of one fairly large grower that has already started protecting blooms. More will probably start soon.”
Sarah Scott reports, “It has been extremely wet throughout Aiken and Edgefield Counties the past week, making field work challenging. In peach orchards, we are continuing to prune and trying to get out dormant oil applications and copper. It appears there is a shortage of Captan this year. There are alternatives for use during bloom as well as at petal fall, just something to look into if you usually use this product. You can read about some alternatives here https://site.extension.uga.edu/peaches/2021/02/captan-shortage/ . Again, it looks like we will have plenty of chill hours for the crop this year with Musser Farm sitting at over 1000 and around 950 hours in Johnston.”
Don’t forget to check out the Upcoming Meetings page for all the meetings coming up over the next couple months. There are 3 coming up this week: Small Fruits this evening (2/8), Peaches on Thursday afternoon (2/11), and Brassicas Thursday evening (2/11). We hope to see you there!
Dr. Matt Cutulle reports, “With the cold temperatures we have been consistently having, it might be good to use Prefar or Dacthal for PRE herbicides instead of Treflan in new collard plantings to avoid injury.”
Justin Ballew reports, “Last week was pretty cool and it looks like this week will be about the same. Things are a little slow in the fields, but folks are preparing land for spring plantings and harvesting a little mustard, collards, and herbs. Strawberry growers are still working on sanitizing. Now is also a good time to make sure drip systems are hooked up and ready to go when it’s time to start fertigating. Deer are still wearing out the plants in some fields. Temporary deer fences aren’t that expensive and they can pay for themselves by preventing the degree of damage seen in the photo below.”
Andy Rollins reports, “We are still in the middle of establishing new peach orchards and inspecting strawberry plantings. I met with new and experienced growers and want to point out most common mistake made. Strawberry wise, I found mites on only one farm growing chandler plugs. Some of the mites were still in diapause (hibernation) and will be orangish in color but there were plenty of active adults and eggs out as well on that farm. Expensive miticides are not effective if mites are not present. The most common mistake made in planting peaches is planting them too deep. To look at the picture below, you wouldn’t think anything was wrong, but the first main root is actually about 4 inches too deep. Please make sure when you are finished planting that the first main root is within the top inch of the soil. An easy way to tell they are too deep is if they have created a hole around the stem from wind movement. Anywhere you are growing in heavier clay soil this becomes even more important. We are still spraying oil and copper on peaches and probably will continue till bloom.
Earlier in 2020 we asked fruit and vegetable producers to respond to a short survey on their experiences with COVID 19. As the pandemic is ongoing and we are close to starting a new season, we are re-launching the survey to understand what happened over the last full year and what changes are being implemented going into 2021. If you responded to the earlier survey, we appreciate your input and are asking for your response to this survey as well. Click the graphic below or scan the QR code with your phone to access the survey.
Once analyzed, the results will be available online. All survey results are anonymous and will be shown as aggregated results. We hope the results benefit producers, Extension, government, and other participants in agriculture. The greater the response, the more accurate and useful the information will be. We appreciate your time and feedback. Please contact us with any questions or concerns related to the survey.
Join commercial fruit & vegetable Clemson Extension agents TODAY at 11:30am via Zoom for a 30 minute dive into this week’s SC Grower Blog Updates! This is YOUR time to ask LIVE questions, get recommendations and exchange ideas with agents from across the state. Don’t miss this GREAT resource! CLICK HERE TO JOIN
Don’t forget to check out the Upcoming Meetings page for all the meetings coming up over the next couple months. The next one is this Thursday evening (2/4/21) from 6 to 8:30 and will be about cucurbit production. We hope to see you there!
Rob Last reports, “Strawberry crops are developing well however we are seeing gray mold and Phomopsis blight in some crops. Sanitation can really help prevent botrytis spread as we move forward when allied to fungicide applications. Keep scouting for spider mites as there are active populations in some crops. Now is a great time of year to think about maintenance of equipment be that for bed formation, cultivation for spring crops, and most important application equipment.”
Zachary Boone Snipes reports, “I feel like Forrest Gump describing the weather as of late. “One day it starting raining and it didn’t stop for four months.” We are extremely wet in the Lowcountry which is delaying a lot of ground prep for the upcoming season. Stay out of the fields if they are wet as equipment will compact soil and make matters worse than they already are. This is the perfect time of year to order and stock up on pesticides, fertilizers, seeds, calibrate sprayers, clean ditches, sharpen tools, clean packing sheds, etc. Preventative maintenance and getting prepared for the upcoming season will lead to less stress and better management decisions down the road. This would also be a great time to explore all the links that lead to resources on SCGrower.com as well as to curl up with your Southeast Vegetable Crop Handbook.”
Justin Ballew reports, “The weather was a little warmer for most of the past week and we received a little more rain. The strawberry fields I’ve looked at in the past week averaged 3-4 crowns. Growers have been working on sanitizing dead leaves and flower buds from their fields to keep botrytis inoculum down. I’ve gotten a couple calls recently about whether it’s time to start protecting blooms. It’s still a little early in my opinion. Remember, there is about a 4 week time span from bloom to ripe berry, so saving blooms now would have people picking around the first of March. I’m not seeing enough blooms out there right now to make saving them worthwhile. I would rather let the plants grow for a few more weeks.”
Sarah Scott reports, “As of this morning at Musser Farm we are reporting 850 chilling hours and 50 chill portions. In Johnston we are sitting at 788 chilling hours and 46 chill portions. Chilling hours are measured between temperatures of 32-45 for this calculation.”
Kerrie Roach reports, “Heavy rains over the last week have put a significant damper on any field prep and planting for early season vegetables in the upstate. Pruning tree fruits is in full swing, and chilling hours are on track.”
Don’t forget to check out the Upcoming Events page for all the meetings coming up over the next couple months. The next one is this Wednesday evening (1/27/21) from 6 to 8:30 and will be about tomato and pepper production. We hope to see you there!
Rob Last reports, “Strawberry crops in the area are looking good with good crown development. We are seeing open flowers and some fruit set based on warmer conditions. These crops are cause for some concern as we are likely to see damage from forecast cold snaps. There is evidence of botrytis (gray mold) in crops on cold damaged flowers and fruit. Sanitation can really help to mitigate the spread of the disease. Spider mites remain active and in places are requiring treatment. Remember to avoid pyrethroids for mite control as these can flare mite populations.”
Zack Snipes reports, “The three components of the disease triangle are a conducive environment, the host plant present, and a virulent pathogen. With that being said; It has been pretty wet as of late, we have warmer weather coming this week, and I have seen pathogens in our fields. I fully expect some diseases to really take hold and start to spread this week. For strawberries, make sure to clean dead tissue (leaves, blooms, fruit, etc) and for other crops removal of dead tissue and a preventative fungicide application (conventional or organic) can really help you get ahead of the fight against diseases. Also, my pet peeve…get your deer fences up!!!! This is the time of year that deer run out of food (and corn piles) and will meander into your strawberries and eat thousands of dollars’ worth of profits.”
Justin Ballew reports, “This past week was a little warmer and more sunny, but not by much. Crops are still growing slowly as a result. I’m seeing a lot of deer damage in strawberry fields that boarder the woods. Nothing reduces yield potential in strawberries faster than deer. Once they start nibbling leaves off, those plants will always be behind and they’ll never yield the same as a healthy, undamaged plant. Keep in mind that wildlife in the field is also a significant food safety risk. Once we get into bloom, this will become a major concern. Fencing is the most effective means of keeping deer out of the field. Fencing doesn’t have to be expensive or permanent. Check out this publication.”
Sarah Scott reports, “New plantings of peach trees are going in along the Ridge. A weather station went up in Johnston at one of our variety trials this past fall and we are watching to see chilling hours accumulated. Currently we are at 714 chill hours and 43 chill portions looking at temperatures between 32 and 45 degrees. The upstate at the Musser location is sitting at 773 chill hours and 46 chill portions. It’s looking like we will have no problem meeting all of our chilling requirements for the season.”
Tony Melton reports, “I keep finding more strawberry fields with spidermites. Some fields are damaged or devastated by deer. If you ever let deer get a taste of strawberry plants it is very difficult or almost impossible to stop them.”
Andy Rollins reports, “Strawberry plants are doing well in the upstate of SC. Some plants are smaller than others mainly due to planting time. Growers need to look for uneven growth with in a field which can be indication of root rot. Also, some growers are spraying Rovral because of early dead blooms producing excessively high amounts grey mold. Some are using it with Captan others with Thiram. Thiram would give some deer deterrence. Growers need to be very careful with covers this time of year. They can force even more unwanted early blooms. Remember 18 degrees hurts crown 30 degrees kill blooms. So we are still in the protect plant time, not the protect bloom time. There are several farms planting peach trees now and still others finishing ground preparations. We also have a new pecan farm whose trees I was able to inspect and help with last minute details before planting this week. I hope and pray all of you stay safe amid the Covid19 pressure around us. The loss of a farming friend and leader of men, Mr. Ervin Lineberger will be greatly missed.”
Remember to check out the “Upcoming Events” tab for upcoming meetings. The next one is this Wednesday (1/21/21) at 6pm. Dr. Brian Ward will be discussing fertility for organic crops.
Dr. Matt Cutulle reports, “Burndown herbicide efficacy can be reduced in colder weather, especially systemic products such as glyphosate (Reduced translocation in the cold means herbicide does not move through the plant as much). A contact herbicide like Gamoxone is not significantly impacted by cold weather, thus it might be a good option to use on medium to small weeds. If you have to use glyphosate make sure that the formulation is loaded with a non-ionic surfactant (NIS) and then add 2.5% Ammonium Sulfate (AMS). If the glyphosate formulation is not loaded with NIS, added an NIS product (should contain at last 90% active ingredient) such as Induce at 0.25% (quarter of 1%) in the tank mix.”
Zack Snipes reports, “Now is the perfect time to gear up for the upcoming season with preventative maintenance on sprayers and tractors. Proper spray coverage is absolutely essential when spraying expensive pesticides and nutrients. Why would you buy a jug of pesticide for $800 and not have it properly applied? I was at a farm last week working on a spray trial and we took a few hours to clean out screens, filters, and orifices in the sprayer. The sprayer I was working on had 5 out of 10 nozzles completely clogged and corroded. We would only get half or less coverage since the nozzles were so clogged. Once we cleaned everything, we needed to recalibrate our sprayer since we were actually putting out product through all of the nozzles. Take the time and get things ready for the year.”
Justin Ballew reports, “Last week stayed pretty cool (high temps in the 50s), wet, and cloudy. Crops aren’t growing very fast right now. We still have a few greens being harvested, but we’ve slowed down from the New Years rush. Most of the strawberries I’ve looked at are still around the 2-3 crown stage. We’re seeing some aphids here and there, but those are rarely anything to be concerned about. Instead, keep checking for mites. Spider mites are active when daytime temperatures are over 50 degrees, so even though it’s chilly to us, they’re active for most of the winter. Fields planted adjacent to tomatoes back in the fall need to be scouted especially well.”
Bruce McLean reports, “Be sure to get out and scout your strawberries. Starting to see a fair amount of Phomopsis in the fields. Captan will give some control, but Rally is a better option. Also, starting to see some Botrytis showing up on ripening fruit… that fruit that has been able to escape frost events and develop. Removal of infected fruit and dead leaves will help reduce pathogen when it comes time to flower and fruit. Across the northern portion of the Pee Dee the strawberry crop is pretty varied in development and appearance. Some plantings are well behind others. This is primarily due to the frequent and heavy rains since planting. Any plants that may have been set (even the least bit) low, experienced loose soil to be washed down around the crown, burying the crown too deep. With the crown being buried, the plants were either stunted or killed. Stunted plants can recover, but likely will not develop and yield properly come spring. Now is the time to begin winter pruning of blueberries, blackberries and muscadines… as well as many fruit trees. Proper winter pruning will go a long way towards improving yield, plant health, overall plant architecture and size management. Ideally, winter pruning for perennial fruiting plants should be performed between early January through early March.”
Tony Melton reports, “Wet, wet, wet. Badly need to start bedding for stale-bed-culture. Putting off bedding sweet potatoes until March. I have seen a lot of spider mites on strawberries and started to spray to get them under control. However, too wet to get tractor in fields so many farmers are using backpack mist sprayers to get job done.”