At this point, only a few cities (Columbia, Charleston, and Myrtle Beach) have issued shelter-in-place orders. The Commissioner of Agriculture, Hugh Weathers, has drafted a Notice of Essential Food and Agriculture Employee form that farms in these areas may fill out for each employee certifying them as an essential employee. They should keep this letter with them while commuting to and from work. Commissioner Weathers also sent this letter to the law enforcement community in regards to his notice.
Zack Snipes reports, “A beautiful week of weather for working outside this past week. Our spring crops look great as well as our early summer planted crops. Tomatoes look great and have really jumped. I found some cranberry fruit worm in highbush blueberries last week that all blueberry growers will want to keep an eye out for. Local produce sales are in great demand right now with lots of growers finding new ways to sell to new clientele. Strawberry season is in full swing with U-pick operations having trouble keeping up with demand. I’ve seen lots of makeshift handwashing stations at U-Pick farms, which I applaud growers for. Had a few calls about thrips in strawberry this past week so keep an eye out for damage. In every strawberry field that I was in this past week, I saw hot spots of spider mites. Scout your fields, the entire field, daily and treat the hot spots before you have to treat the entire field. It will save you money on both treatment and potential yield loss.”
Handwashing stations at U-Picks are protecting both growers and customers. This one was set up for around $70. Photo from Zack Snipes.
Thrips damage on strawberry will leave the berry with a bronzed look and the outside of the berry will be hard resembling a plastic coating. Photo from Zack Snipes.
Justin Ballew reports, “The weather was a little cooler this past week than the week before. We also had a little rain early in the week and dew several mornings. These were perfect conditions for Botrytis and anthracnose to develop in strawberries and both showed up in a number of places. We have a lot of blooms and green fruit out there right now, so make sure to stay on a good spray schedule and rotate MOA’s. Spider mite pressure remains high in some places. Strawberry yields have not picked up yet and growers are easily selling everything they pick. Brassicas are growing fast in this beautiful weather. Caterpillar pressure is still up requiring widespread sprays. Keep scouting.”
Botrytis developing on a strawberry. Weather conditions have been perfect for Botrytis and anthracnose recently. Photo from Justin Ballew.
Strawberry yields have not picked up yet, but we have lots of blooms and green fruit coming on. Photo from Justin Ballew.
Sarah Scott reports, “Peach trees continue to progress, thinning of fruit is happening for some varieties now. Strawberry crop is beginning to pick up. Cooler night temperatures last week slowed ripening some. Vegetable crops continue to be planted including eggplant and peppers.”
Broccoli plants growing well in Saluda County. Photo from Sarah Scott.
Tony Melton reports, “Full speed planting processing vegetables. Pickles, green beans, Butterbeans, peas, peppers, tomatoes are being planted. Having trouble getting all the strawberries picked. 2nd Butterbean planting going in. 3rd sweet corn planting going in.”
Kerrie Roach reports, “With beautiful skies and warm weather this past week, our upstate market gardeners are beginning to put things in the ground. While a little early for some, others are hedging their bets with multiple plantings over the next few weeks. Apples and peaches are continuing to progress with most apple varieties now in or near full bloom.”
Tomato transplants for sale at a local garden supplier. Photo from Kerrie Roach.