Dr. Matt Cutulle reports, “Love is in the air, and your crabgrass (Digitaria spp.) PRE herbicides should be on the ground if you are in the Low Country. When soil temperatures reach 55 F for 2 to 3 days, which will usually occur before March 1st in the Low Country, March 15th in the Midlands and March 30th for the upstate crabgrass germination is possible and can continue throughout the spring and summer. No matter how well crabgrass has been controlled in previous years, there is still a tremendous seed bank in the soil and open spots in crop canopy will allow this fast-growing summer annual to invade. Crabgrass’ rapid emergence and extremely fast growth rate make it a problematic weed in early spring to summer. One study by NC State showed that for every week large crabgrass emergence was delayed an increase in 373 watermelon fruit was observed. This relatively small grassy weed can cause a big problem in early season cucurbit crop plantings.”
Zack Snipes reports, “A wet week is coming to the Lowcountry. Most farms are discing up land and pressing beds in preparation for the season. I saw some potatoes going in last week on a farm or two. If you have strawberries and have started spraying, then keep spraying. Protectant fungicides applied before a weather event are the best measure at preventing disease. The weather coming is perfect for gray mold and Anthracnose to develop. If you have a smartphone download the MYIPM app (make sure to use WiFi) to key you in on diseases and preventative measures for small fruits.
Justin Ballew reports, “More rain on the horizon. Lots of collards are bolting and fall brassicas, in general, are wrapping up. Some spring brassicas have already been planted. Black rot is showing up in some fields following the storms and warm weather, so if, you’re done with a field, get rid of it! It never got cold enough Friday to kill strawberry blooms, but lots of growers had their row covers on just in case. Growers are protecting blooms from now on. This will have us picking around mid-March. Make sure to sanitize the fields as soon as it stops raining and it’s safe to pull off the row covers and start your fungicide programs and fertigation now.
Bruce McClean reports, “We have been on a bit of a roller coaster for the last couple of weeks… warm temps separated by brief periods of cool, windy conditions. The cool weather has not been that severe or persistent, and the warmer weather has been much more dominant. This has caused crops like blueberries and strawberries to really start to push. Heavy flowering in both crops is very evident now. With strawberries, we’re not too worried about losing early blooms… the plant will make more. But with blueberries, persistent early warm temps can ruin the upcoming season’s crop quickly. Some growers have asked about frost protecting this early. The challenge is “do you have enough water to protect until all risk of frost is gone”… likely not. The only thing worse than losing a crop because you didn’t frost protect is frost protecting all winter only to run out of water on the last night of freezing temps. Try to assess how much water supply you have and try to make decisions based on that. If you need help, please reach out to Clemson Extension for assistance.
Some chores to be doing now – finish up pruning your vineyards and orchards over the next week, or so. Look closely for dead wood in your vineyard, especially on the cordons. Now is the best time to identify it and remove it. Also, if you are planning to do some hardwood propagation on blueberries, now is the time to select one-year-old canes for cuttings. Be sure to keep them bagged (with moist peat moss or pine bark) and refrigerated until you are ready to sprig in the spring.
Tony Melton reports, “Farmers wish the rain would stop so they can get greens planted. One way to keep plants from growing too tall in the greenhouse is blowing with a leaf blower every day it will harden them off and cause them to be shorter. Time to bed sweet potatoes for slips if not to wet. If you’ve started to save/protect strawberries, blueberries, peaches, etc. (some already in full bloom) get ready for Friday night.