Weekly Field Update – 2/28/22

Coming up this week we have Part 2 of our virtual Brassica series. Don’t forget to check out the rest of our lineup of winter/spring meetings here.

Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom to see this week’s Question of the Week and check back on Thursday for the answer!

Coastal Region

Tom Bilbo, Extension Vegetable & Strawberry Entomologist, reports, “As temperatures warm up in some areas make sure to be scouting for spider mites in strawberries. Spider mite feeding on plants early in spring before plants start fruiting can result in significant yield reductions later. Plants can tolerate much more spider mite feeding once harvesting begins, but protection at earlier stages is critical. It is also much easier to get good management when you suppress mite populations early in their population growth, before their numbers really start taking off. It is recommended to treat pre-fruiting strawberry plants at a threshold of 5 mites per leaflet (one third of a leaf). Scout for mites by sampling at least 10 leaflets per acre, collected randomly throughout the area and taking an average of the mite numbers. At this time, it is best to use a miticide that is effective against all life stage (eggs, larvae, and adults) such as Acramite (bifenazate), Nealta (cyflumetofen), or Portal (fenpyroximate). Note that these and most miticides do not have systemic or translaminar activity, so good spray coverage and canopy penetration is crucial. Achieving good mite management at these early stages can keep you in the clear for the remainder of the season.”

Rob Last reports, “Spring is in the air in the low country with warmer temperatures and some welcome rainfall over the weekend. Strawberry crops in the area are blooming and pushing new leaves. If you haven’t started fertigation, now would be a good time. If you have begun fertigation, remember to take some tissue tests to fine-tune nutrient applications. Pest and disease activity remains low right now. Scouting will be crucial as we move forward to monitor disease activity and pest migration. Spider mites have been suspicious by their absence, but they will appear. Scouting in time will allow for treatments to be made promptly. Other crops in the area are looking good, with buds swelling in Peaches, blueberries are beginning to flower, and brassica transplants are looking good.”

Zack Snipes reports, “I am seeing some orange cane blotch on blackberry.  This is something that I have seen in previous years but it seems to be worse this year. This is a weird pathogen as it is an algae and not a bacteria or fungus.  Cultural controls such as pruning out of diseased canes is a great management tool. This is not a systemic disease so if you remove all diseased canes and start new, it should clear up the problem.  This does put growers out for a production season but is better than reduced yields and poor plant health for years.  Proper weed management, pruning to increase airflow, and fertilizer and water management will help manage the disease as well. Phosphonate fungicides (ex. Prophyt) products sprayed at 2-3 week intervals is a good chemical management tool that we have.  Most products have 6 applications limits per year.  The MYIPM app is an incredible tool to help you identify disease, insect, and weeds and make management decisions for fruit production.”

Orange cane blotch on blackberry. Photo by Zack Snipes.
Orange cane blotch on blackberry. Photos by Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We hit the 80-degree mark late this past week in Lexington. Some strawberry fields have responded and started pushing out new leaves and blooms, while others that have struggled all winter still look puny. Monday night is going to be cool and there is potential to see some frost damage to blooms. If the forecast is 35 or less in your area with little or no wind, covering to protect the blooms would be a good idea. At this point, everyone should be tissue sampling every couple of weeks and making any necessary fertigation adjustments according to the sample results. Be sure to sample the newest fully expanded leaves. Refer to this video for complete instructions.”

This honey bee is foraging the early blooms in a strawberry field in Lexington. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Warmer temperatures have progressed peaches and many early varieties are beginning to bloom. Bud swell is happening  quickly on other varieties as well. We are finishing up fertilizer applications on strawberries and cleaning up the plants as they are starting to bloom.”

First peach blooms for 2022 in the ridge area. Photo by Sarah Scott.
First blooming peach field of 2022. Photo by Sarah Scott.

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Things in the ‘Golden Corner’ are starting to perk up. Growers are finishing up pruning tree fruits and small fruits like grapes and blueberries. We did get some rain last week, most of which was a misty mix but some areas saw more than an inch on Thursday with lots of runoff. As temperatures rise, our concerns for cold events rise as well. Make sure you’re monitoring the closest weather station to stay on top of protection. Last week we also hosted about 40 Extension agents and specialists from 9 different Universities as a part of the Southern Region Small Fruit Consortium Pruning Workshop. Hands on training was provided by agents and specialists at the University’s Musser Fruit Farm and at a local grower’s farm in Pickens County. The SRSFC’s mission is to involve collaborative efforts at various sites across the region between small fruit growers and grower organizations, industries and service organizations allied with and/or serving small fruit growers, agricultural extension programs and research stations working together to enhance the development of the small fruit industries in the region. Check out the site linked above. There is a wealth of resources! ”

Extension Agent, Bruce McLean, teaching blueberry pruning. Photo by Kerrie Roach.

Question of the Week

For this week’s question, take a look at the photo below. Why is there a hole in the rear of this bloated-looking aphid?

Answer in the comments below and check back on Thursday to see the answer.

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