USDA to Provide Additional Direct Assistance to Farmers and Ranchers Impacted by the Coronavirus

The following statement is a press release from the USDA. Questions regarding the USDA’s coronavirus assistance can be directed to FPAC.BC.Press@usda.gov or see the links in the release below.

Expansion of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program Begins Sept. 21

WASHINGTON, Sept. 18, 2020 – President Donald J. Trump and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced up to an additional $14 billion for agricultural producers who continue to face market disruptions and associated costs because of COVID-19. Signup for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP 2) will begin September 21 and run through December 11, 2020.

“America’s agriculture communities are resilient, but still face many challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. President Trump is once again demonstrating his commitment to ensure America’s farmers and ranchers remain in business to produce the food, fuel, and fiber America needs to thrive,” said Secretary Perdue. “We listened to feedback received from farmers, ranchers and agricultural organizations about the impact of the pandemic on our nations’ farms and ranches, and we developed a program to better meet the needs of those impacted.”

Background: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will use funds being made available from the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) Charter Act and CARES Act to support row crops, livestock, specialty crops, dairy, aquaculture and many additional commodities. USDA has incorporated improvements in CFAP 2 based from stakeholder engagement and public feedback to better meet the needs of impacted farmers and ranchers. 

Producers can apply for CFAP 2 at USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) county offices. This program provides financial assistance that gives producers the ability to absorb increased marketing costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Producers will be compensated for ongoing market disruptions and assisted with the associated marketing costs.

CFAP 2 payments will be made for three categories of commodities – Price Trigger Commodities, Flat-rate Crops and Sales Commodities.

Price Trigger Commodities: Price trigger commodities are major commodities that meet a minimum 5-percent price decline over a specified period of time. Eligible price trigger crops include barley, corn, sorghum, soybeans, sunflowers, upland cotton, and all classes of wheat. Payments will be based on 2020 planted acres of the crop, excluding prevented planting and experimental acres. Payments for price trigger crops will be the greater of: 1) the eligible acres multiplied by a payment rate of $15 per acre; or 2) the eligible acres multiplied by a nationwide crop marketing percentage, multiplied by a crop-specific payment rate, and then by the producer’s weighted 2020 Actual Production History (APH) approved yield. If the APH is not available, 85 percent of the 2019 Agriculture Risk Coverage-County Option (ARC-CO) benchmark yield for that crop will be used.

For broilers and eggs, payments will be based on 75 percent of the producers’ 2019 production.

Dairy (cow’s milk) payments will be based on actual milk production from April 1 to Aug. 31, 2020. The milk production for Sept. 1, 2020, to Dec. 31, 2020, will be estimated by FSA.

Eligible beef cattle, hogs and pigs, and lambs and sheep payments will be based on the maximum owned inventory of eligible livestock, excluding breeding stock, on a date selected by the producer, between Apr. 16, 2020, and Aug. 31, 2020.

Flat-rate Crops: Crops that either do not meet the 5-percent price decline trigger or do not have data available to calculate a price change will have payments calculated based on eligible 2020 acres multiplied by $15 per acre. These crops include alfalfa, extra long staple (ELS) cotton, oats, peanuts, rice, hemp, millet, mustard, safflower, sesame, triticale, rapeseed, and several others.

Sales Commodities: Sales commodities include specialty crops; aquaculture; nursery crops and floriculture; other commodities not included in the price trigger and flat-rate categories, including tobacco; goat milk; mink (including pelts); mohair; wool; and other livestock (excluding breeding stock) not included under the price trigger category that were grown for food, fiber, fur, or feathers. Payment calculations will use a sales-based approach, where producers are paid based on five payment gradations associated with their 2019 sales.

Additional commodities are eligible in CFAP 2 that weren’t eligible in the first iteration of the program. If your agricultural operation has been impacted by the pandemic since April 2020, we encourage you to apply for CFAP 2. A complete list of eligible commodities, payment rates and calculations can be found on farmers.gov/cfap.

Eligibility: There is a payment limitation of $250,000 per person or entity for all commodities combined. Applicants who are corporations, limited liability companies, limited partnerships may qualify for additional payment limits when members actively provide personal labor or personal management for the farming operation. In addition, this special payment limitation provision has been expanded to include trusts and estates for both CFAP 1 and 2.

Producers will also have to certify they meet the Adjusted Gross Income limitation of $900,000 unless at least 75 percent or more of their income is derived from farming, ranching or forestry-related activities. Producers must also be in compliance with Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Conservation provisions.

Applying for Assistance: Producers can apply for assistance beginning Sept. 21, 2020. Applications will be accepted through Dec. 11, 2020.

Additional information and application forms can be found at farmers.gov/cfap. Documentation to support the producer’s application and certification may be requested. All other eligibility forms, such as those related to adjusted gross income and payment information, can be downloaded from farmers.gov/cfap/apply. For existing FSA customers, including those who participated in CFAP 1, many documents are likely already on file. Producers should check with FSA county office to see if any of the forms need to be updated.

Customers seeking one-on-one support with the CFAP 2 application process can call 877-508-8364 to speak directly with a USDA employee ready to offer assistance. This is a recommended first step before a producer engages with the team at the FSA county office.

All USDA Service Centers are open for business, including some that are open to visitors to conduct business in person by appointment only. All Service Center visitors wishing to conduct business with FSA, Natural Resources Conservation Service or any other Service Center agency should call ahead and schedule an appointment. Service Centers that are open for appointments will pre-screen visitors based on health concerns or recent travel, and visitors must adhere to social distancing guidelines. Visitors are also required to wear a face covering during their appointment. Our program delivery staff will be in the office, and they will be working with our producers in the office, by phone and using online tools. More information can be found at farmers.gov/coronavirus.    

Weekly Update – 9/14/20

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “The talk of the Lowcountry this week is transplant die off.  We see lots and lots of transplant die off and the culprits are usually mole crickets, ants, or cutworms.  Tunneling near the base of the plant is very common when mole crickets are present. Dr. Ayanava Majumdar from Auburn University has done some trials with parasitic nematodes and has seen very good results. For more information on the parasitic nematode visit https://www.arbico-organics.com/category/mole-cricket-controls?gclid=CjwKCAjw19z6BRAYEiwAmo64LSCtnQy6Dd1mx7TLTiNwB0-o7BBZ-XZd54LdBCtYuf2Jm6abINhyKRoChFIQAvD_BwE.  Ants are very common culprits of plant die off as well.  Timely applied baits are the best method for control.  Drench treatments make growers feel better but are not as effective as the baits.  Baits should be applied a few times a year between April and October. A few options to check out are Seduce Bait, Monterey Ant Control Pellets, Come and Get It, and PayBack.”

Transplant die off can occur from cutworms, mole crickets, ants, or disease pathogens.  Be sure to correctly identify before treatments are made.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Harvesting sweet potatoes as fast as processing plant can handle them.  Getting good yields.  Army worms are bad!!!  Collards, turnips, and mustard are up and hauling butt.  Dry in some areas and wet in others.  Fall peas and butterbeans are doing well except where damaged by too much rain.  Cucumber for pickles are yielding well except where they were not sprayed for downy mildew.  Watermelons are yielding well where farmers where able to control the gummy stem and drowning during all the rain even then some plants were lost.”

Upstate

Andy Rollins reports, “Fall pepper crop is looking very strong.  Cool milder weather conditions have set us up for a very high yielding and high quality pepper crop.  I found some plants on this farm that died from being waterlogged in the lowest spot of one field.  I also found some fruit with side wall issues.  It was worse in the larger fruited varieties as is normal.  Many times this is misdiagnosed as sunscald but if you examine fully by doing leaf tissue tests you may find out as I did that this is a slight calcium deficiency or imbalance in the plant.  Yes, it is also called blossom end rot in tomato.  In pepper it shows up on the sidewall not just the bottom or blossom end.  Supplying the right amount of calcium is only part of the treatment as normally the problem is more often caused by the plant not being able to move the calcium not that it is missing.  Calcium is a large molecule and requires energy on the plants part to be taken up and distributed.  Careful frequent and regular watering has helped this farm keep this problem to a minimum.”

Pepper fruit with sidewall issues.
Pepper field with waterlogged area causing dieback.

Weekly Field Update – 9/8/20

Statewide

Dr. Matt Cutulle reports, “With all the rain we had in August the weed seed bank is starting to pop. Nutsedge pressure can be really tough in September.  For fall cole crop plantings, it is important to initiate the stale seed bed technique (allow weeds to come up and burn them down multiple times before planting). In some cole crops, such as broccoli, Dual Magnum may be used, which provides some pre-emergent suppression of yellow nutsedge (Max 60% probably). Following with an in-row cultivation several weeks after planting will strain the photosynthate reserves of nutsedge, which could be lethal to the nutsedge if we get a  cold snap in late October.”

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “I saw whiteflies everywhere last week.  I saw them on just about every crop in the field: squash, zucchini, tomato, peas, eggplant, okra.  We have very good options to manage whiteflies, so consult with your local agent or look up the specific products for the crop you are growing in the Southeast Crop Handbook. Be careful not to use pyrethroids for whiteflies as resistance will develop very quickly.  Longer lasting, more specific options are available that are better options.  I also saw a good many worms last week such as the melonworm in cucurbits and the beet armyworm in other crops.  If you have whiteflies and worms in a crop then the group 28 insecticides (Coragen, Verimark/Exirel, Harvanta) are excellent options to take care of both pests at the same time with good residual.”

Whitefly infestations are severe in some places on the Coast. Photo from Zack Snipes.
Whiteflies on tomato leaves. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Last week was extremely hot and dry, though we finally got some relief from the heat over the weekend. Crops are progressing well, though we are seeing caterpillar activity increase. We’re seeing diamondback moth and cabbage loopers in brassica crops and armyworms in tomatoes. Be sure to rotate insecticide MOA’s when treating for caterpillars. I’m also seeing a few whiteflies around, but nothing severe yet. Black rot is starting to show up on some brassicas. Strawberry growers are starting to apply their preplant fertilizers in preparation for shaping the beds.”

Black rot getting started on a young collard plant. Photo from Justin Ballew

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Muscadine harvest is starting to wind down. Harvest looked good and had very good yields. Brix averaged out at 13.5 to 14.5%, depending upon the cultivar and the vineyard. Now is a good time to evaluate successes and problems from this season and write them down while they’re fresh on your mind. Also, look at the overall amount of foliage on the vines. Is it too much? Not quite enough? Start planning how you need to adjust fertility for next year. A post-harvest potassium fertilizer application has proven to be beneficial to the crop (in on-farm settings), especially in wet years. Overall plant health, spring emergence and vigor, and next year’s yields should be well improved.”

A bin of Carlos muscadines ready to be loaded and delivered for processing. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “Getting dry and need some rain. Busy planting turnips, mustard, and collards. Harvesting processing sweet potatoes as quickly as they can process them (problems in the plant). Picking pickles and yielding much better with dryer conditions. Also, pickling plants having trouble with getting enough labor so very few peppers harvested. Still spraying processing peas for cowpea curculio. Watch out for southern stem blight it is still raging havoc.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “The last few peaches are making their way to stands and markets. Things are continuing to look good as the Apple crop progresses in the upstate. Growers to the north in Hendersonville, NC suffered multiple hail events causing a large amount of damage, but SC growers seem to have escaped the worst of it. Vegetable production has slowed significantly with many small growers finishing for the season over the next few weeks. Muscadines are coming into their prime, and look to be highly productive this year.”

Golden Delicious apples that still have a little ways to ripen for optimum sugar content, but work great for baking. Notice the green tint. As they continue to ripen, a yellow cast & even a blush may appear. Photo from Kerrie Roach.

Andy Rollins reports, “These plants were found positive for Phytopthora root rot last week in an early upstate strawberry planting.  Inspection of plants when they arrive can accurately diagnose this problem.  Brown to blackish colored roots are characteristic.  A small portion of this material is taken from 5-10 plants then placed into a pouch that accurately identifies the presence of Phytopthora within a few min.  As in picture, 1 line tells you the test worked properly 2 lines indicates presence of the fungus.  Early treatment with Ridomil and or any of the phosphite (Rampart/Prophyt) is very helpful but must begin quickly if plants are widely infected for the best results.”

Dark colored roots are a characteristic symptom of Phytophthora root rot. Photo from Any Rollins.
An immunostrip test can be used to diagnose phytophthora. Two horizontal red lines on the strip (right side of the bag) means the sample is positive for phytophthora. Photo from Andy Rollins.

Weekly Field Update – 8/31/20

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “We had between 4-6 inches of rain last week with daily thunderstorms.  Growers are working the fields getting ready for the fall crops to go in.  If it happens to rain on Wednesday night, then you should tune in to our Strawberry 101 class from 6-8PM.  We will be discussing economics, seasonal timeline, varieties and common mistakes, and fertility.  This is an excellent opportunity to learn about growing strawberries.  You must register ahead of time to participate.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “After some rain early in the week, the weather turned dry and the temperatures and humidity reminded us that summer isn’t over yet. Fall crops are continuing to progress well, though we are continuing to see a fair amount of disease like anthracnose, downy mildew, and bacterial spot due to the recent wet conditions. Caterpillar populations are climbing on fall brassicas as well. In scouting a field trial, I observed diamondback moths, cabbage loopers, and armyworms. Keep a close eye out and be sure to rotate chemistries when you start spraying.”

Anthracnose spots on a cantaloupe leaf. Photo from Justin Ballew.
Cabbage looper on a collard leaf. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Peach season has wrapped up in the Ridge and post- harvest fertilizer applications are being applied. Fall vegetable crops are looking good as we received some decent rain fall over the past week. Hot temperatures have had some effect on lower seed germination of some brassicas.”

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Harvest time is finally upon us. Sunshine and warm temperatures is doing the trick for giving growers that final push for ripening the muscadine crop. Crop is looking good, but some bitter rot and ripe rot is starting to show. Brix for Carlos and Noble is averaging around 13.5%. Doreen is still a little ways from being ready to harvest, but it won’t be long.”

Grape harvester picking muscadines. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “So wet in areas it is hard to spray peas for curculio some are having to use airplanes.  Harvesting sweet potatoes for processing and yield is good.  Planting greens for processing.  Harvesting pickles but stopped planting this week.  Still harvesting processing peppers but harvesters are getting real tired.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Heavy rains, humidity and continued high temperatures over the last week have continued an increased trend in disease incidence across the board in both vegetables and fruits. Growers need to be proactive to stay ahead of diseases (and insects) by scouting often and well. We are finishing out the peach season with late varieties like ‘Big Red’. Apples are gaining steam and early varieties are looking and tasting great. Overall the production seems to be on target for a significant increase over last season.”

Weekly Field Update 8/24/20

Statewide

Dr. Tony Keinath reports, “For the past few years, Orondis Opti on cucumber and cantaloupe and Orondis Ultra on pumpkin and watermelon have been the best fungicides to manage downy mildew. Based on results from a spring 2020 cucumber experiment at Coastal REC, Orondis is no longer the “silver bullet” it was 2 years ago. In my experiment, Orondis Opti rotated with Bravo controlled downy mildew in the early part of the season, but disease increased significantly during the latter part of the season and ended up higher than expected. Part of the shortcoming of the Orondis Opti/Bravo spray program was the Bravo rotation. Bravo sprayed by itself every other week did not control downy mildew at all, so spraying Orondis Opti/Bravo acted like Orondis Opti sprayed every other week, which was not enough. The labels for Orondis Opti and Orondis Ultra say they must be rotated with another fungicide. For the rest of the 2020 season, use Orondis Opti/Ranman + chlorothalonil on cucumber and cantaloupe, and Orondis Ultra rotated with Gavel or Ranman + chlorothalonil on pumpkin and watermelon. Always use the high rate (2.5 pints/acre) of Orondis products. Note that the mancozeb in Gavel or adding chlorothalonil helps to manage other foliar diseases like gummy stem blight and anthracnose. Yield data and input costs from my experiment are being analyzed to see if spraying Orondis leads to a higher net return despite the higher cost of this fungicide. Results will be presented at the virtual Cucurbit meeting in February 2021 to help growers plan downy mildew fungicide programs for the 2021 season.”

Cucurbit downy mildew continues to spread across the state.

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “Fall crops continue to grow well in the area.  Given the current weather patterns pests and disease are active in some crops particularly where there are volunteers remaining from previous crops.  Vigilance will be required in scouting an pesticide management programs.  If In doubt scout.”

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “It’s been cool, cloudy, and kind of pleasant outside this past week, though that has the vegetable crops growing a little slower. We’ve gotten some decent rains in most areas around the midlands as well. Bacterial spot is really showing up on fall tomatoes as a result of all the recent rain. It could be a bad fall for bacterial spot if the weather stays like this. Caterpillars are already out there on fall brassicas. It doesn’t take long once they’re planted. Start scouting, scout often, and rotate insecticides. Remember to contact one of us about screening your farm for insecticide resistance in diamondback moths once you start seeing populations build up.”

Bacterial spot and speck start on the bottom of the plant and can be splashed onto higher leaves and fruit by rain drops. Photo from Justin Ballew.
Start scouting for caterpillars as soon as your fall brassicas are planted. Photo from Justin Ballew

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Both fruit and vegetable development has slowed a bit due to cloudy conditions. Sunny conditions needed. Sweetpotatoes are sizing well and will be ready for harvest soon. Fall cucumbers and squash should soon be ready to start harvesting. Fall brassicas are being planted now. Muscadine crop is getting close to harvest. Noble is around 90% ripe; Carlos is around 60%; Doreen is still around 25%. Brix (sugar content) is off due to rain and cloudy conditions. Noble and Carlos brix are averaging around 11% with a low of 9.2% and a high of 15.0%. Doreen is averaging less than 10%. Did find a few Doreen that brix was over 19%… candy. Sunny conditions definitely needed.”

Noble muscadines around 90% ripe. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “Beginning to harvest processing sweet potatoes but some have been stunted and delayed by excessive rain.  Spraying processing peas for cowpea curculio.  Starting to plant processing greens by seed.  Even though lots of rain and having to mud through fields cucumbers for pickles are being harvested and still being planted.”

Upstate

Andy Rollins reports, “Blueberry pruning is best served for the dormant time of year late January-late February.  I met with a commercial grower who was anxious about getting started early partly because he has many plants completely unproductive for the second year in a row. I like to call this revenge pruning as that is the primary motivation. Be careful, you could end up hurting yourself more in the long run. In his case, it was all about light and proper pruning to encourage light down through the canopy. The orignial spacing of Rabbiteye type varieties was very close so we also considered killing every other plant to get more light into the bushes but this would not replace the need for properly selectively removing a few of the oldest canes each year, spacing them out so there is better light penetration. For a detailed explanation, please see NCSU Blueberry specialist Bill Cline’s presentation.”

Weekly Field Update – 8/17/20

Statewide

Dr. Tony Keinath with a word on crop rotation. “To keep the soil on your farm productive over the long term, do not replant the same vegetable, or a related crop, in the same field “too often.” How often is “too” often depends on the crop and the pathogens present in the soil. Almost always, “too often” is less than 12 months between disking the old crop and planting the new crop. A general rule of thumb is 24 months between related crops, and in some cases, 36 months (3 years) is needed.

The main risk in replanting “too often” is building up root pathogens that survive in soil for years. Even in the heat, diseased roots and stems take several months to decay enough so they are not a source of pathogens. Thicker tissue, like the crowns of cantaloupe, can take 2 years to decay.

Another risk is foliar diseases that start on volunteers from the previous crop. The pathogens may be in or on some of the seed that sprouts, for example black rot on leafy brassica greens or gummy stem blight on cantaloupe and watermelon. A small number of infected volunteers means the disease has a head start right at the beginning of the crop.

Controls for soilborne pathogens (fungi, water molds, and nematodes) are limited.

  • Many vegetable crops have no resistance to these pathogens.
  • Fungicides do not penetrate soil well, or they are quickly inactivated.
  • Fumigants have many restrictions that require time-consuming record keeping and air monitoring.

Root-knot nematodes are a special problem, because they form galls on many vegetables and some field crops (cotton, for example) grown in rotation with vegetables. Summer cover crops of sunn hemp can lower nematode numbers. See https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/in892 for a list of other warm season cover crops that help manage nematodes.

Without crop rotation, more fungicide sprays will be needed, which raises the risk of fungicide resistance. Fungicides and fumigants are not a substitute for good crop rotation.”

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Many areas got a little more rain last week and we had a break from the heat over the weekend. We have a lot of the fall crop planted now including squash, zucchini, tomatoes, and brassicas. So far everything is mostly growing well. We are seeing bacterial wilt develop in some of the fall-planted tomato fields. Bacterial wilt loves hot soil temperatures, which is typical this time of year. Be sure to follow a proper crop rotation plan (at least 3 years) to help manage bacterial wilt buildup in fields. Since the heavy rain we got a few weeks ago, we’ve also seen plenty of bacterial spot in what’s left of the spring tomatoes.”

To test for bacterial wilt in tomatoes, place the cut stem in a jar of clean water. If the plant is infected, within about 30 seconds you will see milky, white bacterial ooze begin to stream from the stem. Photo from Justin Ballew.
Bacterial wilt commonly causes discoloration of the tissue within the stem. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Most summer vegetable crops are starting to wind down. Peas, okra, watermelon, cantaloupe still harvesting at some volume. Late summer/fall squash, cucumbers and tomato harvest are a couple weeks away. Fresh market muscadines are being harvested now. Juice and wine muscadines are getting close – maybe 7-14 days away, depending upon location. In most juice and wine muscadine vineyards, Carlos is around 40% colored (ripe), Noble is around 60%, and Doreen is around 25%. Grape root borer (GRB) flight is still occurring, with moderately high moth counts in traps.”

Eumorpha pandorus, a.k.a Pandorus Sphinx Moth caterpillar, found in the muscadine vineyard at Pee Dee REC. Photo from Bruce McLean.
‘Noble’ muscadines getting close to harvest. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “‘Another Crop Bites the Dust’ from spreader/stickers. I have seen too many farmers sing this sad song. Be careful and know what you are doing when adding a sticker/spreader when spraying vegetables. Short season, tender vegetable crops will burn very easy in our heat and do not have time to come back like long season row-crops. Our state’s second major watermelon/cantaloupe season is in full season in Chesterfield County. Harvest is in full swing and will continue until frost. Curculio sprays are beginning to be applied to the fall pea crop. Looks like pickle harvest will continue until frost.”

Field Update – 8/10/20

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “Across the area fall plantings are growing on and developing well. Scouting for pests and diseases will remain critical to ensure timely applications are made where necessary. For those with out fall planted crops thoughts are turning to next year with soil sampling. One key thing to consider at this point in the year is the use of cover crops. Not only will cover crops help to prevent erosion or loss of soil they also capture nutrients. In addition as these crops are incorporated they act as a source of organic material to aid in nutrient cycling in the soil as well as moisture retention.”

Zack Snipes reports, “We were spared from the worst of Hurricane Isaias.  We clocked 21 MPH wind gusts and 1.66 inches of rain at the Coastal Research Station in Charleston.  Most growers are working their fields after the much needed rain and are laying plastic for the fall crops.  This is the time of year when insects, diseases, and weeds usually have parties in fields if they are left unattended.  Remember to clean fields, remove crop residue, turn under weeds, and if possible plant a cover crop.  I would recommend buckwheat, sorghum-sudan, or cowpeas this time of the year to build soil, suppress weeds, improve nutrient capacity, and increase beneficial insect habitat.”

Field

A healthy field of cowpeas that can fix (or produce) up to 100 pounds of nitrogen for your next crop in that field. Photo by Zack Snipes.

leaffooted bug on eggplant

Juvenile and adult leaffooted bugs having a party on unattended eggplant left in the field after the field finished picking. Photo by Zack Snipes.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Some fresh market sweet potatoes ready to harvest. Still planting process peas. Pumpkins laying over starting to run. Planting some fresh market squash and snapbeans. Still planting and harvesting hundreds of acres of pickles. Still picking thousands of pounds of processing peppers.”

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Most areas received at least a little rain last week and we had a temporary break from the heat. The increased moisture in some areas has lead to an increase in powdery mildew and downy mildew in cucurbits. Folks are still busy preparing fields and planting fall cucurbits and brassicas. What’s been planted is growing well. Some of the earliest planted fall crop tomatoes are already being staked.”

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Some areas of the Midlands are getting rain. The moisture is allowing powdery mildew to increase. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Peach season is winding down along the Ridge. Late varieties like Big Red are being harvested and end of season tasks are starting like summer pruning. Usually this is done to open up tree centers and remove any damaged or dying wood. Cuts at this time should be made no larger than a quarter. Late season peppers, eggplant and squash are being planted. Greens like collards and kale are being seeded as well. Afternoon storms have provided some much needed rain in some areas while others remain dry still.”

Peach Cut

Good pruning cut less than the diameter of a quarter. Photo by Sarah Scott.

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Things in the ‘Golden Corner’ are in full force when it comes to tree fruit. Peaches are still coming off and we about 60-70% of the way through the season. Asian pears and nectarines are coming off now, and apples are beginning to gain steam with early varieties starting to ripen. Late season rot issues are showing up in orchards where afternoon rains have prevented cover sprays. Merivon has been a consistent player for disease control, but a timely Pristine application has been shown to have much more efficacy on these late season rots.

Apple

Maturing golden delicious apple that still has a few more weeks until ripe. Photo by Kerrie Roach.

Weekly Field Update – 8/3/20

Statewide

Dr. Matt Cutulle reports, “Hurricanes or tropical storms can lead to increased seed dispersal from seeds that can be transported by wind and water. Two notorious weeds that come to mind when planning for hurricanes are Horseweed (Conyza canadenis), which due to lightweight seeds and plant architecture can be dispersed for miles during wind storms. A troublesome weed that can be dispersed through water (overflowing irrigation ditches, river surges etc.) is curly dock (Rumex crispus) due to the bladder-like structure of the seed. If you have access to a flame weeder or maybe Gramoxone it might be a good idea to get out to any fallow fields right now and start torching weeds with seed heads prior to this incoming storm to prevent unwanted widespread dispersal of weed seed.

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “We are anxiously awaiting to see what Hurricane Isaias will do today and tonight.  Hopefully, we will be spared of heavy rains and winds.  Some rain from the storm would not be a bad thing as many fields are dry.  I have been finding some leaf spots in rabbiteye blueberry, which is common for this time of year.  What is unique about the leaf spots is that they have caused the variety Tifblue to shed its leaves and then attempt to grow out more leaves.  The plant is weak and nutrient-starved so the new leaves are very small and red.  You will see red shoot flagging symptoms on Tifblue but no other varieties.  The other varieties will have the same leaf spot but they will still hold onto their leaves.  Increased fungicide applications between bloom and harvest should help with management of this disease and increase yields on Tifblue and other cultivars.”

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Fungal leaf disease on Powderblue that keeps its leaves despite having an infection. Photo from Zack Snipes.

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Small, red leaves on Tifblue that are a symptom of leaf shedding and regrowth as a result of a fungal leaf disease. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Some of the midlands got some heavy rain this past week, while others remain dry as a bone. Parts of Lexington had a strong storm come through Wednesday night that washed out areas in some fields and left ponds in others. We will have to replant some areas where fall crops had just been planted. The weather has cooled of slightly since. Aside from that, folks are still prepping fields and planting fall tomatoes, peppers, and brassicas. We’re still thinning pecans also. For anyone planting strawberries this fall, now is a good time to start taking soil samples.”

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This field in Lexington had some large areas washed out by the storm that came through Wednesday night. Fall brassicas had just been planted and some areas will have to be replanted. Photo from Justin Ballew.

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A pond that formed in a field in Lexington during the rain Wednesday night. The geese aren’t mad about it (upper right side of the pond). Photo from Justin Ballew

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Most vegetable and fruit crops look surprisingly good for the amount of heat we have had recently. Sweetpotatoes are growing very well. Peas, squash, zucchini, cantaloupe, watermelons, okra, and cucumbers are all looking good and harvesting good quantities. Downy mildew is still showing up on cucumbers, and powdery mildew on squash and zucchini. Sweet corn and butterbeans are wrapping up. The blueberry crop is finished. Muscadine grapes are looking very good. Wine/juice muscadines are just starting to color (maybe around 2-3%) and should be ready to begin harvest in about three weeks. Fresh market varieties should be just getting ready to harvest now on the earliest varieties. Grape root borer (GRB) activity was high this past week, with some traps capturing 50+ moths. Too late for any type of treatment For GRB. Just monitor and plan for control next year. Powdery mildew damage is starting to show up in the vineyard. No signs of fruit rot yet. Stink bug damage has been very light in vineyards with a strong spray program.”

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Damage from powdery mildew is starting to show up on muscadines. Photo from Bruce McLean.

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Mighty nice crop of ‘Carlos’ muscadines. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “All processing peas are harvested for the spring crop, but we have some cowpea curculio because of uneven crop due to excessive rain.  Fall cowpea crop is planted or is rapidly being planted.  If they found seed, farmers have already planted fall butterbean crop.  Getting ready to plant fall brassica crops.  Hopefully, all vegetable growers sprayed potassium phosphide on all vegetable crops before all the rain comes for root rot control.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Rain has still been spotty around the Upstate, so irrigation has been extremely important for vegetable production. Storm tracks are showing that the Isaias will bring some relief for the entire area. Early apple varieties are beginning to ripen, but sugar levels are still a little low. Blueberries are about finished for the season and peaches are hitting mid-stride. Cover sprays on tree fruits will be necessary as soon as the rain event passes. Insect pressure is increasing on vegetable crops as we move later into the season and into early parts of fall cropping, so scouting is extremely important.

Field Update – 7/27/20

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “It has been a hot week in the Lowcountry. Most spring and summer crops have finished up. Ground is being prepared and planted for fall crops. I have received a few texts from growers that have yellow dots on their zucchini plants, which is downy mildew. Even in this heat downy can still be an issue. I have also had some reports of green-colored squash in fields which is an indication of a viral pathogen. The crop handbook has recommendations for cultivars that are resistant to these viruses that cause this discoloring. Fall is notoriously bad for cucurbit viruses so plan accordingly.  I have also seen some flea beetle damage on crops as of late.”

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Downy mildew looks a little different on zucchini and pumpkin than it does on cukes. Photo from Zack Snipes.

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Flea beetle feeding damage on blackberry foliage. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “It’s been hot in the midlands and we’ve gotten to the point where there isn’t much relief at night. We had some scattered rain throughout the week, but overall we’re still quite dry. Lots of land is still being prepped for fall crops. We’ve had some fall brassicas and cucurbits planted already and they’re looking good so far. Last week I got to watch a pecan grower in Lexington thin some pecan trees. Without thinning, he would have seen a massive yield this year, which would result in a significantly diminished yield next year. Pecan growers aim for nuts on just 70% of the terminal buds.”

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Fall squash seedlings just beginning to emerge. Photo from Justin Ballew

Thinning pecans with a mechanical shaker. You can see the nuts fall as the tree vibrates.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Pickles are still being harvested and planted. We still have hundreds of thousands of bushels in contract to be planted and harvested.  Peas for processing are being rapidly harvested and replanted, some seed is short.  Sweet potatoes are starting to swell and size.  Processing peppers are being harvested but we have a shortage of labor and multi-millions of lbs. left to harvest.  Processing tomatoes will be finished harvest this coming week.  Spring planted fresh market butterbeans and peas are mostly harvested but seed is short to plant the fall crop. Still have some flooded fields and drowned crop.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Spotty rain across the county again last week has led to continued issues for growers without irrigation. Fall planting for vegetables is in full force. Peaches are looking good, and apples are coming along. Most growers will be putting on a fungicide cover spray this week before significant rains are forecasted.”

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Reverted apple rootstock (believed to be M7) volunteer tree with aborted fruitlet. Photo from Kerrie Roach.

Andy Rollins reports, “Bacterial speck and bacterial spot of tomato are major problems in plum tomato varieties in the upstate right now.  They were not able to control this disease even with a vigorous spray program using mancozeb + copper on several farms.  In nearby plantings of large fruit varieties, the disease is present but not a problem.  Samples have been sent to researchers at Auburn University where the have confirmed the presence of copper resistant isolates from other farms.  Call on your extension agent for assistance with identifying and controlling this problem.”

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Bacterial speck on a tomato leaf from the upstate. Photo from Andy Rollins.

Field Update – 7/20/20

Statewide

Dr. Matt Cutulle reports, “It is always good to control goosegrass even if it is past the critical period for competition with the crop. Lack of late-season control made hand-harvesting tomatoes difficult in the field pictured below. Also, there will be a huge deposit of goosegrass seeds into the soil seed bank for next year unless the seeds are destroyed after the harvest.”

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Late season goosegrass growth can make harvest difficult and contribute lots of seed to the seed bank, which will have to be dealt with in future crops. Photo from Dr. Matt Cutulle.

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “We experienced a nice hot week of weather in the Lowcountry.  Most crops are finishing up with the heat and recent rains.  On later season tomato I have seen bacterial leaf spot on the fruit which makes fruit unmarketable.  I am seeing this on the second cluster of fruit set and not on the first or third clusters.  Hemp seems to be off to the races and looking pretty good so far.  There are within every hemp field occasional wilted, stunted, and yellowed plants.  These plants always have a weak root system and most of the time have girdling and interveinal discoloration.  Peppers and eggplants are loving this heat and are producing in high volumes.”

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Bacterial leaf spot showing up on the second set of fruit on the tomato plant. Photo from Zack Snipes. 

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Wilting of hemp is very common and often sporadic throughout fields. Photo from Zack Snipes

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Last week was hot and mostly dry, though we did have some scattered thunderstorms come through over the weekend. Field prep for fall crops continues. We’ve had some fall tomatoes, peppers, and brassicas transplanted already and more to come this week. Everything is growing pretty fast right now and we’re still picking spring crops. Keep an eye out for spider mites, as they love the hot, dry weather we’ve had lately.”

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Fall tomatoes transplanted in Lexington this past week. Photo from Justin Ballew

Sarah Scott reports, “We are still ahead of schedule on peach varieties being harvested.  Early August Prince and August Prince are being picked now which is over a week earlier than usual. The fruit quality is still good with slightly smaller than ideal fruit.  With the extreme heat and lack of rain in the past week, summer crops like tomatoes and cucumbers are looking rough. Bell peppers are doing well.”

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An Edgefield County grower assessing his Early August Prince orchard. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Sweet potatoes are looking good. Establishment seems to be very good for the most part. Long green cucumbers, yellow squash, zucchini, cantaloupe, peas, okra, and sweet corn are harvesting well. Condition is good to very good. Sweet corn will be wrapping up shortly. Blueberries are pretty much finished, with only a few remaining fruit on Powderblue. Fruit condtion is fair to good. Muscadines are coming along nicely and appear to have an excellent crop. Fresh muscadines should be beginning harvest soon, with wine/juice grapes still a few weeks from harvest. Be on the lookout for Grape root borer moths. They are starting to emerge. They were being caught in traps placed in vineyards in Marion and Horry counties.

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Grape root borer moths being caught in a bucket-style trap. Photo from Bruce McLean.

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No, this is not a paper wasp. It is a grape root borer moth. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “Harvested first crop of processing peppers. Continuing to pick and plant pickles. Processing greens are over for the spring crop. Harvesting the first crop of processing and seed peas and planting fall crop.  Getting processing tomatoes out of the field as quickly as the plant can take them.  Things are drying out, hope we don’t go into drought with the heat.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Spotty rain and high temperatures have left many small growers scrambling for irrigation options throughout the Upstate. Peaches and nectarines are still being harvested. Blueberries are just about finished, and farmers’ market produce is starting to wind down with the heat. Apples should begin next week with early varieties like ‘Ginger Gold’  and ‘Golden Supreme’.”

Andy Rollins reports, “Plenty of early blight, bacterial spot/speck on tomatoes this season, but some of the more troublesome problems have been various tomato virus problems. When diagnosing virus problems it is important to get lab verification because herbicide injury can look very similar when just going by visual symptoms. If you suspect herbicide drift from a neighboring farm. Look for damage to other broadleaf plants in the area in between the suspected source and the damaged plants. Follow the wind direction.  You should have more severe damage on the leading edge. Also, herbicide residual from a previous crop like sunflowers can also give you herbicide damage that you did to yourself. Read and follow all pesticide label directions. There are plant back restrictions on some herbicides so be careful. If this is the case the damage should be fairly consistent/uniform throughout the area that was planted in the other crop.

Unlike both of these other situations, virus problems may come from your seed source, the greenhouse where plants were grown, or from weeds in the field. Pokeweed is commonly a source, as are many other broadleaf weeds. Thrips, aphids, and whiteflies are all known to vector viruses into plants. Symptoms are what you see below with “shoestring” looking leaves, leaves with distorted veins, and mosaic yellow and green coloration. There are many viruses that infect plants. Each of them can show different symptoms and also they can each look different on other plants as well. It’s even possible for a healthy-looking plant with no symptoms to be infected with several viruses.”

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“Shoestring” type leaf distortion may be a symptom of a virus or herbicide damage. Get confirmation from the plant disease lab. Photo from Andy Rollins.