Weekly Field Update – 4/3/23

Coming up this week, we have a couple of Pesticide Collection Events hosted by the SCDA. This is a great opportunity to get rid of any old unwanted pesticides you have laying around the shed. There is also a webinar on Composting coming up on Wednesday. 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.

Coastal Region

Rob Last reports, “The area has had another warm week with excellent crop development. Strawberry crops are loading up with good volumes coming to harvest. Remember to scout fields paying close attention to spider mites. Where specific miticides have been applied, control is excellent. A further miticide will be required where a broad-spectrum insecticide has been used. We are finding gray mold and anthracnose. These diseases will likely increase following the rainfall last week. Remember to rotate fungicides with different FRAC codes to prevent resistance and focus on hygiene and sanitation. Blueberries are looking very good, with excellent fruit development. Pest and disease issues are looking good, but remember to scout and rotate pesticides as with strawberries. Cold assessments with peaches are continuing. Cantaloupes are in the ground and just beginning to emerge. Watermelons will begin to be planted this week, while crops under plastic tunnels will be uncovered this week. Spring is definitely in the air as we head into April.”

Blueberries are coming along nicely. (R. Last)
Growers will begin uncovering spring crops planted under low tunnels this week. (R. Last)


Phillip Carnley reports, “Sweetcorn is going in the ground at record speed here in Orangeburg and Calhoun, while growers hope all the cold weather is gone for the year. Onions are looking good, with many small-scale producers getting ready to harvest. Green beans have yet to be planted but should go in once corn planting is finished. Blueberries are right on track for all the early varieties that were protected from the frost and picking should begin soon. Strawberries have been an area of concern from the rain last week. Many of the strawberry patches in my area experienced excessive rain, upwards of 4 inches, and water management has been monumentally important. Botrytis is still the biggest issue, causing massive fruit loss. Keep in mind, before any rain event, to thoroughly harvest all berries that are ready for harvest. And with your spray program, using a protectant like Captan as the backbone coupled with some of the more systemic chemistries will greatly reduce reinoculation. And like the old saying “ Cleanliness is next to Godliness,” make sure that all damaged and diseased fruit is removed in a timely manner.”

Water-damaged fruit is being removed from the field to keep it from becoming a source of disease inoculum. (P. Carnley)

Sarah Scott reports, “It’s a bit muddy after several rainy days last week. The wet weather has made field conditions for strawberries less than ideal. Sanitation in the field will be very important in the coming days. Some berries show water damage in the form of a bit of rot just under the calyx. Otherwise, the fruit will look healthy, with soft spots showing up in the field mostly a day or so after picking.  This problem should level out as it dries up. Most growers are operating on a normal growers’ standard management plan in peach orchards. Some varieties that took a hard hit may get less management, but it is advised to follow the spray guide for non-bearing orchards to reduce inoculum buildup for next year.”

Water-logged berries showing soft spots days after picking. (S. Scott)

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “We are getting into April, and the forecast looks like we are likely past any more significant cold for this spring. Cold damage is evident around the Pee Dee, but it’s a little better than expected. Anyone that had frost protection fared better than those without…on peaches, blueberries, and strawberries. The peach crop looks pretty promising. Right now, it looks like the mid and late-season crop is likely to have a full or nearly full crop. The early crop may be a little light. It sustained more damage from the recent freezes. Blueberries that had overhead frost protection came through very well. The ones that did not are hit-and-miss. Across the varieties, everything that was at petal fall or early pad fruit and had no frost protection got hit hard. The fruit that had started sizing came through OK, but some will likely be corky (inside) or contain frost rings. Strawberries without covers were set back, with all flowers and most fruit seeing damage. Covered strawberries saw almost no damage. Blackberries saw some damage as well. Early varieties (like Prime Ark 45, Brazos, etc.) saw significant injury and will limit yields. Later varieties saw heavy damage to King buds, but little damage to the remaining buds. Be sure to keep an eye out for botrytis with all of this dead tissue in the fields/orchards.”

Cold injured Prime Ark 45 bud, even though it was still closed. (B. McLean)
Honeybee robbing nectar through the slit made in the corolla (on blueberries) by a carpenter bee. (B. McLean)

Question of the Week

What is this specialty crop that Zack is growing in Charleston?

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

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