2021 Value Added Producer Grants from the USDA

The USDA is accepting applications for Value Added Producer Grants. The applications are due by March 22, 2021. Click below for the application templates.

According to the application, “The purpose of the Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) Program is to help U.S. agricultural producers enter into value-added activities.  Awards may be made for either economic planning or working capital activities related to the processing and/or marketing of valued-added agricultural products.  The maximum grant amount for a planning grant is $75,000 and the maximum grant amount for a working capital grant is $250,000.”

Kyle Player of the SCDA ACRE program has planned a Value Added Producer Grant Webinar for January 7, 2021 from 3-4 pm. This will be a great webinar for learning about eligibility and applying for the grant. Click on the flier below for more information.

SCDA Now Accepting Hemp Growing Permits for 2021 Season

From the SCDA press release from 12/30/20:

The South Carolina Department of Agriculture (SCDA) will accept applications for hemp farming permits for the 2021 growing season from Jan. 1 through Feb. 28, 2021. The state’s Hemp Farming Program has grown from 20 farmers in 2018 to 265 farmers in 2020 – and each year, the program has changed as state and federal laws changed. When the federal government approved South Carolina’s State Hemp Plan in April 2020, the program entered a new period of regulatory stability, one that SCDA expects to continue in 2021. The agency now has six full-time staffers devoted to hemp regulation.

Requirements to receive a hemp farming permit include:

  • Proof of South Carolina residency
  • Criminal background check (A new check is required each permit year.)
  • FSA (Farm Service Agency) farm number
  • $100 nonrefundable application fee and $1,000 permit fee
  • GPS coordinates of all locations on which hemp will be grown
  • Submitting application and all required materials by the February 28, 2021 deadline
  • Attending an SCDA orientation and signing a Hemp Farming Agreement before possessing any hemp, including clones and seeds


All farmers must apply through SCDA’s online portal at agriculture.sc.gov/hemp. There are no paper or printable applications. Because it may take several weeks for farmers to obtain FSA farm numbers and background checks, applicants should review requirements and begin the process as soon as possible.

Permits are only good for the current year, so 2020 permit holders who wish to farm in 2021 must apply for a new permit. SCDA will not award a 2020 farmer a 2021 permit unless he or she has reported his or her 2020 hemp acreage to the FSA by the 2021 application deadline.

For information about the South Carolina Hemp Farming Program, visit agriculture.sc.gov/hemp or email hempstaff@scda.sc.gov. For important dates and application information, see the SCDA Hemp Newsletter attached below.

SCDA is tasked with regulating hemp farming. At present, our agency cannot provide training, information or grants for growing or processing hemp. Those with questions about hemp farming practices should contact their Clemson Cooperative Extension agent.

Weekly Field Update – 1/4/21

Happy New Year! We hope everyone had a great holiday season and is off to a good start in 2021. We have several virtual grower meetings coming up over the next two months, so keep an eye on the “Upcoming Events” page for info. Also, don’t forget the Southeastern Regional Fruit and Vegetable conference kicks off virtually this week and it’s not too late to register.

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “Firstly I would like to wish everyone a happy ,and successful 2021.   Crops in the area have slowed down with the cooler weather and we are seeing a reduction in caterpillar activity. Strawberries look good however it would be advisable in advanced crops to remove any flowers to reduce the botrytis pressure later in the season. Winter vegetables are looking very good with low levels of Alternaria leaf spot in some crops. If in doubt scout.

Zack Snipes reports, “One of my New Year’s Resolutions this year is to be more proactive rather than reactive.  I would like to extend that mentality to my field work as well.  This year I really want to help growers nip problems in the bud before they become problems.  Weekly calls, texts, check-ups, and regular visits can help both of us achieve our goals.  Give me a shout in 2021.”

Let’s work together before this happens. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We’ve had a lot of rain to start off the new year. A day or so after Christmas we saw temperatures down in the low 20’s and ended up with some cold damage on greens. They should grow out of it just fine. Strawberries are coming along. We are seeing spider mites build up in places, requiring treatment. Keep scouting regularly, even though it’s cool outside. Let me know if you need a second pair of eyes. On another note, I noticed daffodils starting to come up in my yard a few days before Christmas. Can’t ever remember seeing them emerge that early.”

Cold damage on mustard greens from the recent dip into the low 20s. Photo from Justin Ballew.
The view of spider mites on the underside of strawberry leaf through a 10X hand lens. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Field preparation for new peach tree plantings is underway along the Ridge. Some growers are using a plow to make berms to plant trees on to aid in disease management issues such as armillaria root rot. Lots of rain in the past week has made for muddy conditions.”

Freshly plowed peach field with berms for planting. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Very few greens undamaged after the cold if they weren’t either covered or protected in some way.  Strawberries are doing well. I hope there is not and I have not seen any cold damage of the crowns in the Pee Dee. I had 1 account where coyotes were biting through the row-covers to eat ripe strawberries.”

Weekly Field Update – 12/7/20

This will be the final update of 2020. We will pick back up on 1/4/21. Be sure to keep an eye on the upcoming events tab give us a call if you need anything. Happy Holidays from the SC Grower team! We hope everyone takes some time to enjoy the season, and may 2021 bring you good health, great family time, and as always…prosperous fields!

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “A chilly week in the Lowcountry took out or really slowed down some of our fruiting crops like pepper, tomato, and cukes.  The brassicas and strawberries are loving this weather.  One thing I have noticed lately is lots of worm damage on brassica.  After talking to many growers, I hear that many are not using adjuvants in their spray tanks.  Adjuvants can help your pesticides work better.  A common one I would recommend on brassica crops is the use of a spreader-sticker.  Brassica crops have a waxy leaf which repels water.  The use of a spreader-sticker will help stick the pesticide droplet to your leaf and the spreader will help reduce surface tension so that the droplets spreads out on your leaf.  You will be amazed at how much better coverage you will get with a spreader-sticker and how much better your pesticide will work (organic or conventional pesticide).  Adjuvants are cheap so consider adding some to your tank today.  For more on adjuvants and spray tips, join us on Tuesday night from 6-8 pm for the Organic/Sustainable Farm Meeting via Zoom. The registration link can be found here.

Many crops have a waxy surface that cause pesticide mixtures to bead up on the plant.  The use of a spreader-sticker would have helped these pesticide droplets spread out and stick to the leaf which helps overall efficacy of your product. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We had two nights last week where temperatures dipped below freezing. After a long fall growing season, the tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and squash are done. Now growers will be focusing on strawberries, greens, and herbs. Strawberries in some fields had developed blooms as a result of the late warm weather. Now that the cold has killed them, it will be important to sanitize them before the spring, as dead blooms can become a significant source of grey mold inoculum. As always, don’t let up on scouting for caterpillars in greens.”

Due to a warm fall, several strawberry fields have developed some early blooms that have been/will be killed by the cold. Be sure to sanitize these blooms to keep grey mold from having dead tissue to develop on. Photo from Justin Ballew.
As the cold weather has finished off other fall crops, growers will be focusing more on greens now. This mustard is off to a great start. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Brassicas are being harvested. Pest pressure is relatively high this season including aphids and diamondback months. Peach fields are being prepped for new plantings. In areas where armillaria root rot has been an issue in past crops,  growers will use a plow to create burms to plant trees on. Rain has slowed plowing down but there is a dry forecast for the next 7 days.”

Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2

From the Farm Service Agency.

Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 for Specialty Crop Producers

More than 230 fruit, vegetable, horticulture, and tree nut commodities are eligible for USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2) along with honey, maple sap, floriculture and nursery crops. Check to see if the crops you grow are eligible through our Eligible Commodities Finder on farmers.gov/cfap.

Don’t miss a “beet” and apply for CFAP 2 by December 11, 2020, through your local USDA Farm Service Agency.

Learn more at farmers.gov/cfap or call 877-508-8364 to speak directly with a USDA employee ready to offer assistance. 

Weekly Field Update 11/30/20

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “After a long Thanksgiving nap, I was able to waddle out in the fields and look at some strawberries.  We have had some really good strawberry growing weather especially considering most folks got their plants out somewhat late this year.  We need some cold weather to slow them down a bit in places.  I am seeing a tiny bit of plant collapse and death in some spots within the fields.  It is very important to send these plants into our lab to get a positive identification of the pathogen.  Phytophthora crown rot and anthracnose crown rot can cause similar symptoms but are managed completely different. For information on how to submit a sample during COVID times, click here. I am also keeping my eye on a good bit of leaf spotting in some fields to make sure its not the new disease, Neopestalotiopsis. I don’t think we have it yet, but being proactive is better than being reactive.  More information on that disease can be found here.”   

A healthy and a diseased plant side-by-side.  Perhaps a positive identification of the pathogen can help with management to protect the healthy plant. Photo from Zack Snipes.
Determining the pathogen responsible for plant collapse can be tricky in the field.  Send in a plant pathology sample to our lab.  Is this anthracnose, phytophthora, or another pathogen? Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “The mornings were nice and cool last week and we saw light frosts in a few more areas. We’ve been getting a fair amount of rain also. This has the brassica crops looking great. Caterpillar populations are still fairly high. Don’t give up on scouting as it gets cooler this week. Diamondback moth caterpillars and adults can survive for several hours at temperatures well below freezing, so a few nights in the upper 20’s is unlikely to affect them, other than slowing down their life cycle a bit. Don’t give up on scouting for mites in strawberries either. Even though we’ve had some wet weather lately, they’re still out there.”

Lacinato kale is growing well and looking good. Cropping has already started in this field. Photo from Justin Ballew
Keep up with scouting for caterpillars as the weather gets cooler. Winters in SC don’t get cold enough to wipe out diamondback moth populations. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “We still have some sweet potatoes in the ground. Greens are growing well except for bacterial diseases. Some diamondback are hard to kill. We are trying everything.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “With a low of 30 degrees Fahrenheit predicted tonight, and 26 degrees F predicted tomorrow night(Tuesday), growers in the Upstate should be making preparations for a hard freeze event. Wind speeds from 10-25 miles per hour have begun, and are expected to continue through Tuesday. So make sure any protective measures are held down tightly!”

Weekly Field Update – 11/23/20

We have added a new resource under the “Resources” section. On the right side of the page, you will find a link labeled “Plant and Seed Supplier List.” This is a list of reputable nurseries and seed suppliers that growers in SC regularly work with. If you know of a good nursery or seed supplier you would like to suggest adding, just let us know.

We would also like to take the opportunity to wish everyone a happy, healthy, and safe Thanksgiving!

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “Strawberry crops continue to develop well with minimal pest and disease pressure so far.  Fall vegetables are progressing towards market.  We are continuing to see pest pressure from caterpillars and a few isolated aphids have been spotted during scouting. As we progress towards the holiday season, scouting of crops remains of vital importance to catch insect infestation and disease progression early for treatments to be effective.”

Zack Snipes reports, “The week of wet weather two weeks prior prevented folks from getting out in the fields to spray for insects. I am seeing lots and lots of worm damage, particularly the diamond back moth.  We need to get ahead of this pest so that we have good looking greens for the New Years Market. There are some very good products that we can use but knowing which ones to use and when to use them is where Clemson Extension can help. If you have swiss cheese plants, then give us a call to help out. The strawberry crops looks ok so far this season. The warm weather has really helped later seeded/transplanted crops. I am seeing some die off/rot in root crops in lower lying areas of fields.”

Don’t forget about your strawberries while eating turkey this year (No those are not chocolate covered raisins). Photo from Zack Snipes.
Graffiti cauliflower almost ready to harvest. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Temperatures got a little cooler last week, with frost showing up in some low lying areas, mostly north of Columbia. Early season growth of strawberries has been impressive so far. As warm as it’s been this fall, early season row covers probably will not be necessary this year unless plants were transplanted late. Caterpillar population size and damage seems to be on the rise in brassicas. I saw some fields this past week where insecticide applications weren’t made in a timely manner nor were materials rotated properly and the caterpillar populations have really gotten out of hand. Call us if you have questions about controlling caterpillars and never use broad spectrum insecticides when caterpillars are your primary pest!”

We’ve had good early season strawberry growth so far. Photo from Justin Ballew.
How many diamondback moth caterpillars and pupae can you count on this leaf? This is a key reason why weekly scouting, timely spraying, proper insecticide rotation, and avoiding broad spectrum insecticides for caterpillar control are so important. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Still a lot of sweetpotatoes in the ground.  The bacterial diseases (Xanthomonas and Pseudomonas) on greens are raging havoc.  Rotation is the best control I have found.  I hate swinecress when it comes to greens -it takes over.  Yellow margined beetle is getting worse in  greens and spreading all over the state – Imidacloprid is a good control without killing beneficials.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Things have certainly slowed down in the field the last few weeks. Apples are mostly finished for the season with ‘Arkansas Black’ being the last variety to be picked. Most growers will keep roadside markets open until Thanksgiving and then call it a quits for the season. Now begins the prep for next year with educational meetings, pesticide certification credits, soil testing, land prep and more. Make sure you are checking the events page for the upcoming trainings.”

Weekly Field Update – 11/16/20

Statewide

Pestalotia leaf spot and fruit rot are emerging diseases that were discovered last season on strawberries in the southeast. This could potentially have an impact on SC strawberry production, though the extent is yet to be determined. Please see these two publications (UF and UGA) and be on the lookout. If you suspect you’ve found Pestalotia leaf spot or fruit rot, please let your local Clemson Extension Agent know.

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “Strawberries are planted and for the most part looking good. I am seeing some spider mite damage on plug plants. Get out and scout and treat as needed. In some areas we had 4 or more inches of rain last week which made fields sloppy, unable to be harvested, and tough to spray. Get out and look for worms in brassica this week.”

Yellow stippling appearance on strawberry leaflets from spider mite feeding damage. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Last week was warm and wet, as expected. We had a good amount of rain Tuesday evening and Wednesday. I expect to see foliar diseases increase this week. Pecan harvest continues in the midlands. While yields have been very good, nut quality isn’t quite where we want it. This is most likely from the trees not getting enough water at certain times during the summer when the nuts were filling. The weather is forecast to get cool this week. It there should happen to be a frost, that would be the end of the fall squash and tomato crops.”

Heavy rains on Wednesday (11/11) saturated fields in the midlands. Luckily excess water doesn’t stick around long in sandy soil. Photo from Justin Ballew.
Pecan nut quality hasn’t been quite where we want it. The halves on the left filled out nicely while the ones on the right didn’t quite fill out. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “We have seen some flea beetles/larvae feeding on strawberry transplants and yellow-margined leaf beetle has been bad on brassicas. Some crops have been drowned by the rain. Harvest or row-cover warm season vegetables before the frost to avoid damage. Harvesting the last of the butterbeans and peas this week. A lot (500 or more acres) of sweet potatoes are still in the ground and harvest will begin again after the soil dries.”

Upstate

Andy Rollins reports, “Still inspecting strawberry plantings across the upstate.  Look for uneven growth on either side of the bed and also in the row.   Placement of drip tape depth and distance from plants is very important as is proper planting.  Uneven up and down growth can be indication of root rot or other problems too, so look carefully.  Unusually wet weather from recent hurricanes has given us conditions very favorable for fungal Botrytis growth.  Dead tissue is very susceptible to being colonized first.  Use of Captan, a protectant fungicide would be advised as long as conditions remain favorable.”

Uneven growth possibly from drip tape not being centered under the plastic. Photo from Andy Rollins.
Dead tissue such as stems and leaves are the first to be colonized by Botrytis. Photo from Andy Rollins.

Weekly Field Update – 11/9/20

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “It seems like we experience fall and summer in the same day this time of year.  I visited a few farms and saw residual damage from whiteflies (silver leaves, virus, and stunted plants).  The good news is that overall populations of whiteflies are down this week.  The armyworm numbers are still high in a lot of crops so keep an eye out for those.  We have lots of good products for them so choose something other than a group 3 or 4 insecticide.  I have seen some white mold (Sclerotinia sclerotiorum) in some brassica crops this week.  I have some great reports from strawberry fields and other not so great reports.  If you have issues, please call me so we can fix them before they get out of hand.

White mold symptoms on Brussel sprout. Photo from Zack Snipes.
I love seeing cover crops like buckwheat incorporated into crop rotation plans.  Buckwheat outcompetes weeds, mines potassium, and is a safe haven for our beneficial insects. Photo From Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We had some very warm afternoons this past week. The air has been much drier as well. Young strawberries are responding well and have put out a good amount of new growth. Weak plants caused by J-rooting and deep planting are making themselves evident now. The drier air has allowed some growers to get a handle on the disease issues that have plagued us for the last few weeks. However, there is lots of warm, wet weather in the forecast, so plan your fungicide applications accordingly and rotate modes of action. Other crops are still growing well and we have folks picking tomatoes, squash, beans, and various brassicas.

All the strawberry plants in this small area were J-rooted and subsequently died. Photo from Justin Ballew.
Brassicas are looking good in the midlands. These collards were just recently cropped for the first time. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Patchy frost brought an end to some fields of summer crops like squash and zucchini, however most areas did not see damage from cold temps. Cole crops are progressing nicely but insect populations are high this fall, including aphids and imported cabbage worms. Strawberry plants have gone in and are taking root and getting established.”

Caterpillar populations have been high around the ridge this fall. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Getting dry. Hope get some rain later in the week.  Greens are growing very fast with warm weather.  Frost burned the very tops of some crops like sweet potatoes, tomatoes, peas but did not really hurt them much.  Very little grasshopper pressure for some reason this fall.”