Weekly Field Update – 3/20/23

Coming up this week, we have a Climate-Smart Project Farmer Interest Meeting on Wednesday (3/23) at the Pee Dee REC in Florence. Check out other upcoming meetings on the Upcoming Events tab.

Don’t forget to look at our Resources tab for links to crop handbooks, helpful websites, and related blogs. Also, check out the latest episode of the SC Grower Exchange Podcast.

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.


Sarah Scott reports, “Temperatures dropped below freezing along the Ridge two mornings last week. We’ve been checking peaches over the past few days to assess the damage. Right now, it seems a lot of early varieties will be hit pretty hard. Just from what I’ve checked, if there were still blooms present, there was some protection from the cold, but if there was no petal or shuck present, the fruit was very vulnerable and suffered damage. It will still take some time to know the extent of damage to the peach crop, but it is safe to say we did receive damage. We still have below-freezing temperatures in the forecast, so we will just have to wait a bit to really know the crop outlook. Strawberries were covered for the cold mornings last week. These crops look good after removing the covers. It’s important to maintain a good spray schedule and sanitation as best you can in between covering and uncovering.” 

Petals protected these developing peaches from the cold. The embryo is still in tact and whitish in color. (S. Scott)
Fruit that was already in shuck off suffered damage. Embryo is damaged and will not make a decent fruit. (S. Scott)
Strawberry field looking clean after workers removed damaged and old fruit after covers were removed. (S. Scott)

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Monday night/Tuesday morning looks like it is going to be another frosty one for much of the state. Just like last week, tonight’s freezing temps are going to be accompanied by calm wind conditions. These are the perfect conditions to do frost/freeze protection (overhead water for blueberries and strawberries, row covers on strawberries, wind machines for peaches, nectarines, etc.). After tomorrow morning, the forecast looks to be in a warming trend for the foreseeable future. Keep your fingers crossed that this will be our last chance of frost. It looks like we somewhat escaped cold injury from last week’s cold temperatures. Blueberries and peaches seem like they got the worst of it due to being so far along in flowering and fruiting. Orchards that had frost protection seemed to escape most injury. Orchards that did not have frost protection were hit hard. Same with strawberries. Berries that had some means of frost protection (row covers or overhead water) had little to no damage. Years with freezes like we have had are the years where frost protection pays for itself.”

Overhead water on blueberries protects the flowers and fruit from freezing water temperatures. The clear ice on the plants indicate that there was optimal weather conditions for frost protection (calm wind, high humidity and naturally freezing temps). Looks like a very successful effort at frost protection. (B. McLean)
Freeze injury to Carlos muscadines. Luckily the damage seems to be localized to only the leaves and terminal tips. (B. McLean)
Orange slime mold on a recent pruning cut. This is not anything harmful to the plant, and there is no need to spray a fungicide to control it. It will go away on its own. Or if you like, a little shot of water will wash it right off. (S. Cook)


Andy Rollins reports, “We had damage to our peach crop last week and possibly again this morning (3/20) on some farms. Some growers have peaches, but it is still too early to know the full extent. The strawberry crop suffered very little damage, although some damage is evident. Three growers have had to run water and use overhead protection. The freezes have also damaged the blueberry crop.  They seem to be worse than muscadine and blackberry, which have suffered little damage overall.”

A mass of spittlebug bubbles at the base of a strawberry plant. Spittlebugs are a rare occurrence on strawberries. (P. Rollins)

Question of the Week

For this week’s questions, take a look at the image below. These beetles were found under a decaying log in the woods. What are they?

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

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