Weekly Field Update – 4/5/21

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “Temperatures checked in at 28 F at the northern end of Charleston County one night this past week. Strawberries were covered but some blossoms are showing damage. The weather this week should really push berries and give us our first big flush of the season. Lots of acres of tomatoes are planted and before the cold were looking pretty good.  Time will tell how much the cold will slow them down. It has been very windy in the Lowcountry as well which I think has slowed down development on some crops. Spring brassicas are looking great with very low worm pressure right now. That does not mean we should stop scouting. Populations can jump very quickly.”

Tomatoes were looking ok before the cold nights. Photo from Zack Snipes.
A fall seeded brassica crop beside strawberries is blooming. The thought behind this cover crop is the early blooms will encourage beneficial insects that will prey on the early season thrips which have been causing lots of cosmetic damage on strawberries the past few years. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We had a couple frosts late last week and the temperature got down to 30 degrees at my house. Growers covered their strawberry fields, so we don’t expect to see any damage there. We’re getting very close to picking on a larger scale. I’ve seen some nutrient deficiencies in a few strawberry fields, so be sure to tissue sample periodically and adjust fertigation accordingly. Now that we’re into April and the forecast looks warm, many growers will begin planting cucurbit crops this week. A few already had seed in the ground before the frost. The first plantings of sweet corn are up and growing well.”

One of the first plantings of sweet corn is up and looking good. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Still determining damage from frost. One grower had 40 A of butterbeans emerging – sprayed with a frost control product. Sweet potatoes slips are up, covered with plastic, and beds are covered with slips (about a month out from planting). Cabbage is beginning to cup, head, and touch in the rows. Asparagus was hurt by cold and most harvest is over. Starting to plant pickles, peppers, and tomatoes. Picked all ripe fruit and sprayed for disease before frost – this coming weekend will be a good harvest for most growers.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “With some very cold nights last week in the upstate, the apple and peach crops took a significant hit. With extreme differences in topography, each grower has different severities of loss, but the overall consensus is not great. It will be another week to tell for sure on the apples and a little over a week to tell on the peach crop with certainty. One orchard recorded a low of 25 degrees F on the first night and 26 the following night. Night one was actually less damaging because of a persistent wind, where night two was calm and allowed the cold air to settle in. As we assess damages in the orchards, here is a great explanation of how it is done: https://extension.psu.edu/orchard-frost-assessing-fruit-bud-survival

Weekly Field Update – 3/1/21

Don’t forget to check out the Upcoming Events page for all the meetings coming up over the next couple months. The next meetings will be the 2nd and 3rd peach sessions on Thursday 3/4. We hope to see you there!

Also, join us Tuesday from 11:30 to 12:00 for the new, weekly “SC Grower Exchange” where we’ll discuss a little more about what’s going on in the fields and take questions from the audience. Click here to join the discussion via Zoom.

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “Following a few days of warmer conditions, crops are moving on strongly. Flowering and fruit set is occurring in strawberry crops. At present spider mites in treated crops are at very low populations, but with warmer weather, populations can increase rapidly. As we are entering flowering and fruit set, sanitation and fungicide applications will be required to keep gray mold managed. Remember to rotate FRAC codes to avoid resistance build up. Fertigation is being applied and it will be well worth while taking a tissue test from crops. Blueberries in the area are showing bud swell with early varieties showing open flower.”

Zack Snipes reports, “With the warm and DRY weather last week and for most of the week this week, farmers have been able to get out and work in the fields. Spring crops are going in the ground where it is dry enough to plant. The warm weather this past week and this coming week will probably push 2020 brassicas to bolt (flower). If you have any left in the fields, it might be best to get them out as soon as possible. Stay on top of sanitation for berries and it’s time to start fertigating them if you haven’t started that already.”

Warm weather can cause collards that have grown through the winter to bolt (flower). This plant is just beginning to develop a flower head. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We had several beautiful, warm days last week. Strawberry growers used that opportunity to pull the row covers off the fields, allowing the plants to catch some rays. Growth is starting to pick up and I’m seeing a good many blooms. The weather conditions are favorable now for Botrytis development (high moisture and temps in the 60s-70s), so we need to begin protecting our blooms with preventative fungicide sprays. Check out this great video put together by Dr. Guido Schnabel’s former student Madeline Dowling for a refresher on the Botrytis life cycle. Download the MyIPM app for more disease and fungicide information. Now is also a good time to start tissue sampling to make sure we’re fertigating the right amounts of nutrients.

Starting to see plenty of blooms on the strawberries around the midlands. Photo from Justin Ballew.
This dead flower is already developing Botrytis spores. Spore development is high when temperatures are in the 60 to 70 degree range and moisture is high. Start protecting blooms now. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Growers took advantage of some sunny, dry weather and continued to apply copper and dormant oil sprays in peach fields to combat potential bacterial spot issues, as well as scale in the coming season. Pruning and orchard floor management continue as well as some late planting, due to wet field conditions. Strawberries have been covered to give them a pre-season push. Some mite issues are present but under control.”

Workers apply a dormant oil application on peach field in Edgefield Co. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Growers are working between the rains to finish up pruning. The SC Apple Grower meeting was held on Thursday afternoon virtually with lots of great presentations and discussion. During the meeting, Dr. Mike Parker (NCSU) mentioned the distinct difference in apple and peach pruning, and how using the same crews can sometimes lead to problems. Peaches fruit laterally along limbs which means heading cuts (pruning off the tip of a branch) is the common and acceptable practice.  Where as apples fruit terminally, so heading cuts could potentially remove a significant amount of potential fruit. Make sure crews are well aware of the difference!”

Pruning apples at Hollifield’s Orchard with pneumatic pruners. Photo from Kerrie Roach.

Weekly Field Update – 2/22/21

Don’t forget to check out the Upcoming Events page for all the meetings coming up over the next couple months. The next meeting will be this Thursday (2/25) from 2-4 pm about Apple Production. We hope to see you there!

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “Another rainy, wet, and cold week last week.  Some sunshine and warmer temperatures coming this week.  All of our fruit crops have received their chill hours and are just waiting to burst out for spring.  I expect to really see fruit crops take off this week.  Make sure that you have a fertility plan for the spring crop.  Don’t let your crop be without fertility at the critical moments. For more information on fruit fertility visit https://smallfruits.org/ipm-production-guides/.  For smaller farms, Clemson’s Home Garden and Information Center is a wonderful resource as well.”

Early varieties of highbush blueberries are in bloom right now. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “To say last week was wet would be an understatement. We received about 4 inches of rain at my house last week and the ground was already saturated before it started. I’ve seen water standing even in sandy fields. On the bright side, irrigation ponds are looking full. Most strawberry growers have covered their fields to protect the blooms now. This means we should start seeing our first ripe fruit around mid-March. Don’t forget to start tissue sampling so we can make sure the plants are getting everything they need as they are beginning to produce fruit.”

Row covers on a strawberry field protect the blooms from late winter/early spring cold. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Wet, wet, wet… Last week’s rain has cause some significant ponding and flooding throughout the Pee Dee. Last week, I had a number of conversations with growers concerning application of fumigants for early crops – timing, too wet, how effective? Not a lot of good options with soil moisture being so high, right now. We really need some sunshine and a steady breeze to help dry fields out. Wet fields are preventing spraying, hindering application of row covers and hindering pruning of perennial crops (blueberries, muscadines, and blackberries). Some crops are starting to “back up” due to the wet soils. An application of mefenoxam (Ridomil) or phosphorous acid (K-phite), in locations where root rot is suspected, would be beneficial.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “A beautiful weekend of weather was much needed for tree fruit growers getting in orchards and finishing up dormant pruning for the year. Pruning out dead, diseased, and damaged limbs, opening the canopy, and reducing overall vegetative growth is extremely important for tree fruit integrated pest management (IPM). Pruning increases light penetration and air movement, reducing disease potential, and also allows for better spray coverage during application. More rain today and even more projected toward the end of the week will continue to delay any kind of field work, as the ground is oversaturated. Don’t forget, this Thursday is the SC Apple Grower Meeting via Zoom from 2-4pm! Check it out on the upcoming events page!

Andy Rollins reports, “Found major scale problem on large scale muscadine producer’s farm. Scale was identified on the main scaffolds and also on last years wood. Mineral oil (Damoil) is labeled but is recommended at much lower rate than other fruits. Only 1% by volume or 1 gallon per 100 gallons of water, but needs 200 gallons of total solution applied per acre to get sufficient coverage. This is because the oil needs to get into very tight areas where the scale can reside. We also recommended the use of a labeled insecticide with the oil to increase efficacy. Once the plants come out of dormancy other products are available but determination will be made at that time if necessary. Peach and strawberry production had no major issues to address.  One strawberry farm began picking the last week of January this year in high tunnel production and picked 30 flats of fruit and is still producing.

Scale on the main scaffolds of muscadines. Photo from Andy Rollins.
Up close view of scale on muscadine scaffolds. Photo from Andy Rollins.

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 – 11/2/20

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “Strawberry planting is mostly complete in the area.  Plants received from nurseries have been very good this year and establishment is progressing well.  In fall vegetable crops Southern army worms continue to be present and numerous.  Whiteflies in fall vegetables are beginning to reduce.  Disease pressure remains relatively low.”

Zack Snipes reports, “Strawberry planting continued last week.  Bare root plants look good going into the ground.  Stay on top of workers to plant them correctly.  I saw some patches with “J” roots or long roots that went to the bottom of the hole and back out.  Those plants will die or produce considerably less yield than properly planted plants. Also, I have seen and heard reports of spider mites on plug transplants.  Check your fields and get out miticide this week if you need it.  Fall growth is very important as well as knocking out the existing spider mite populations.  Remember that the threshold for spider mites is 4-5% of the leaves with a population.  And lastly, I have seen AWFUL disease on purchased transplants.  If you purchase transplants and they have disease on them, DO NOT plant them. The plants will never produce like they should and you are inoculating the rest of your crops and land with that disease.

Clean bareroot cutoff plants.  Notice how white or cream colored the crown is and how clean the roots are. Photo from Zack Snipes.
A freshly purchased and planted collard transplant with black rot.  This plant will never grow out of this, it will reduce yield, and increase inoculum in the soil for the next brassica crop.  Send these plants back and find a new transplant provider. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Young strawberries are growing well so far in the midlands. We’ve had good weather for getting the plants established. We are starting to see some spider mites already, so don’t forget that we need to be scouting regularly as soon as the plants are in the ground. If you plan to cover your strawberries for a couple weeks in the fall, getting rid of mites should be priority #1. Other crops are doing well also, though we are seeing high numbers of caterpillars and diseases like black rot and Alternaria on brassicas have really been ramping up.”

Discoloration on young plants from spider mite feeding damage. Once populations reach the threshold of 4% infestation, treatments need to be made in a timely manner to keep spider mites from hanging around throughout the winter and into the spring. Photo from Justin Ballew.
Alternaria leaf spots on a collard leaf. Be sure to rotate fungicide MOAs when treating. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “First time I have seen large numbers of yellow-margined beetle in Orangeburg County – we had to treat 1 out of 10 fields for them.  If possible do not use a pyrethroid on young greens it will encourage worm and aphid problems.  Still seeing a lot of boron and Magnesium deficiency in greens, mostly because farmers are not liming properly, using sul-pho-mag, or using premium fertilizers with minor elements.  Spray with boron and many applications of Epsom salts and the greens will eventually grow out of the problem.  Like always, swine cress and corn spurry are awful weeds in greens – to control I recommend using a stale-bed culture technique before planting.  We still have butterbeans, peas, and cucurbits in the ground – hope frost stays away until after Thanksgiving.

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “High winds, heavy rains and now cold over night temperatures have laid down a gauntlet for growers in the Upstate over the last week. Many growers in Oconee County lost power from the remnants of hurricane Zeta for anywhere from 1-4 days. Apples are just about finished with mainly Yates and Arkansas Blacks left to pick. Apple growers concerned with fungicide resistance should contact Kerrie to pull Bitter Rot samples now to be sent to the shared lab at NC State.”

Andy Rollins reports, “Finishing up strawberry planting in the upstate.  I’ve been inspecting farms and assisting some growers with planting different types of plants they weren’t used to planting.  Unlike the pictured transplants some are a little smaller than normal but appear to be healthy at this point.   Colder weather is a slight concern as we need decent growing conditions to get them rooted in well.  Some may need to use row covers to keep strawberry plants growing during the first 30 days in the ground if temperatures stay low. Peach growers are putting down fall herbicides still and some are preparing to do delay blooming.  This involves waiting till at least 50% of the leaves are off of the trees before applying a liquid form of ethylene.  Other stipulations are also important regarding temperatures after application. If it is your first time trying this, speak with your county agent to get the correct method.

Healthy strawberry plug ready to be planted. Photo from Andy Rollins.
Strawberry plastic ready to be planted in the upstate. Photo from Andy Rollins.

Weekly Field Update – 10/26/20

Statewide

Dr. Matt Cutulle reports, “A good stand of fall cover crops will typically suppress most weeds. However, you may want to pursue herbicide options for cleaning up the weeds that have pushed through the cover crop canopy. If these cover crops act as buffers in fall vegetable crops, one has to proceed with caution regarding herbicide application. The best selective herbicide option for controlling broadleaf weeds in cereal rye would be a low volatility 2,4D or dicamba product ( the low volatility dicamba products may not be available right now).  Enlist One is a 2,4D choline formulation. Apply the herbicide with a hooded sprayer using nozzles that produce coarse droplets. We are approaching cooler temperatures so the conditions do not favor volatility as much as they did in late spring/summer. If you have a clover cover crop and do not want to kill it, do not spray 2,4D. Using a labeled graminicide (clethodim or sethoxydim products) in clover will provide control of grass weeds that have escaped the clover cover. Remember to read the label and use appropriate surfactants with the graminicides for maximizing activity”

A good fall cover crop can suppress late summer weeds and early winter weeds.

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “Strawberry plants and cut offs are going into the ground in the area.  Remember to check roots and crowns before planting and also supervise planting crews to ensure correct depth of planting is achieved. Caterpillar and whitefly on a range of fall crops, pressure remains high in the area so vigilance and regular scouting will be required to spot potential problems.”

Zack Snipes reports, “This past week was all about strawberries.  I visited many farms and saw lots of plastic being laid.  I checked many strawberry plants from a multitude of nurseries.  Overall the plants look ok this year. I haven’t found any glaringly obvious root or crown rots and very little foliar issues in our plugs and cutoffs.  Overall the plants are on the smaller side and I hope for a good fall growing season so they can size up a bit before going into the winter.  I saw, on a few farms, issues with calibration and equipment for fertilizer distribution.  If you need help calibrating or calculating fertilizer rates, please give me a call. I would be more than happy to come give you a hand.  I hate to even mention it but I am already seeing deer tracks in strawberry fields…if you need it…”

Imagine that…deer tracks in a strawberry field…Get up your fences! Photo from Zack Snipes.
Strawberry plugs about to go in a field.  Can you pick out the smaller, weaker trays of plants?.  I would plant these trays last. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Strawberry planting has wrapped up in the midlands and the earliest transplanted fields are already pushing out new leaves. This cooler, damp weather is much better for getting strawberries established than the dry, 95 degree days we saw this time last year. Be sure to go back through the fields shortly after planting to ensure the plants are set at the proper depth. If any were planted too deep or settled too much after the first overheard watering, gently pull them up to the proper depth and refirm the soil around them. This should be done before new roots start to form. Also, get ready for deer! it doesn’t take them long to find newly planted strawberries.”

Cutoff transplants pushing out new leaves less than a week after planting. Photo from Justin Ballew.
This transplant was either set too deep or it settled too much during the first overhead watering. If any plants are too deep, gently pull them up to the proper depth and repack the soil around them. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Strawberry planting is going full pace. Much of the acreage was planted in the last half of last week. The remainder will be planted this week. So far, the transplants look very good. Acreage is up compared to last year. Brassicas are (for the most part) looking good. Insects have not been much of an issue – minimal caterpillar occurrences, occasional aphids, and some grasshopper damage. Some fields have experienced some plant stunting and plant losses due to persistent wet soil conditions (root rot). Die-off really started to show on affected plants with last week’s heat. Some growers will begin harvest next week.”

Strawberry field immediately after planting. Getting ready to turn on the overhead irrigation. Photo from Bruce McLean.
Aphids on turnip leaves. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “Very little insect and disease problems on greens.  However seen a lot of B and Mg deficiencies.  Continues to harvest sweet potatoes yield is very good.  Some late Butterbeans and peas are planted.  Most strawberries are planted already some deer damage.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Late season rot issues have sent some apple growers looking for more answers with fungicide resistance testing. Apple pathologist Sara Villani’s lab at the MHCREC in Mills River, NC is conducting tests to look at resistance to specific modes of action(MOA) and fungicides in Apple production. Harvest in apples is about 80% complete with only a few varieties left to pick.”

Weekly Field Update – 10/5/20

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “The cooler weather and lots of rain have brought out the diseases. I saw some watermelon diseases last week including gummy stem blight. We need to protect our foliage just a few more weeks to finish off those melons so keep at the spray programs if you can.  Whiteflies continue to hammer us in all crops this fall. Strawberry planting is just about upon us. Rains and wet ground have slowed some farms from laying plastic. Remember that preplant fertility and herbicides are critical to spring success. Spartan and Devrinol  are the only two preplant herbicide options this late in the season. Other products require a 30-day wait period. Let me know if you want me to come check your strawberry plugs before you plant them.”

Gummy stem blight on watermelon foliage. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Rob Last reports, “Fall crops are looking good in this area with good development in brassicas and beets.  Insect and disease activity remain moderate however with cooler weathers and rainfall scouting will be critical to success for these crops.  Adult moths are very active at present so be on the lookout for eggs and caterpillars. Plastic is down and awaiting strawberry planting in the next week.”

Growers are ready for strawberry planting. Photo from Rob Last.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “The weather has been pretty fall-like and enjoyable over the last week. The cooler temperatures and high amounts of recent moisture have diseases like powdery mildew, downy mildew, and anthracnose increasing. Caterpillar activity has increased in the last week as well. Be sure to rotate modes of action when spraying for caterpillars. Strawberry growers are ready to plant and will probably start within the next week.”

Powdery mildew has been picking up on fall cucurbit crops. Photo from Justin Ballew.
Adult diamondback moth that just finished pupating on a collard leaf. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Daytime temperatures have been mild with cooler night temps. Early last week areas saw anywhere from trace amounts to 2 inches of rain. Low spots in fields may remain wet and this could lead to potential problems.  Peppers are looking good as well as eggplant and late squash. Brassica crops are having some issues with aphids causing leaf curling.  Pecans are beginning to fall as well. Scab seems to be particularly bad this year,  most likely because of wet weather during critical spray times for fungal management in late June and July. 

Pecan scab has been rough this season. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Greens are growing fast with cool temperatures; however, beans, peas, pickles, and sweet potatoes have slowed down with these temperatures.  Most sweet potatoes need to find a home.  We are using a lot of potassium phosphide to keep down root rot especially on greens.  Most growers also use it as a dip for strawberries transplants or put through drip system as soon as they plant.  Getting ready to plant strawberries as soon as the transplants get here.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Clear skies since Tuesday with cool fall temperatures at night and warm days has consumers looking for all things fall. Growers with pumpkins, gourds, mums, corns stalks, and/or anything fall related have been busy keeping up with demand. Agritourism demand/opportunities has picked up significantly in the last few weeks. Apples are in peak season with Stayman being one of the current varieties available.”

Andy Rollins reports, “Upstate peaches are finished up for the year but muscadines are still being harvested although slowing some and strawberry planting is in full swing. I was called to examine poorly growing peach trees at an upstate farm. The majority of trees were dying from the most devastating disease of peach ‘Oak Root Rot.’  There was gumming at the base and I was fully expecting a greater peach tree borer problem but closer examination and cutting of the below ground bark revealed the Oak Root Rot fungus growing at the base of the trees.  When pushing your older peach trees up be sure to examine the main roots for the sign of this disease which is the white to yellowish fungal growth deep inside of the bark below the soil level.  There are a few other fungi that can have a similar symptom but they tend to grow just on dead tissue and don’t grow as deep into the wood of the tree.  There are some things you can do about it, but proper identification comes first.”

Gumming and yellowish white fungal growth at the base of a peach tree from oak root rot. Photo from Andy Rollins.
Poor tree growth as the result of oak root rot. Photo from Andy Rollins.

Weekly Field Update – 9/28/20

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “Cooler temperatures have really helped out the direct seeded fall crops.  Carrots, beets, and arugula are looking great around the Lowcountry.  We had about 2 inches of rain so many fields are soggy.  I am still seeing high numbers of whiteflies on just about every crop.  Whitefly feeding will lower yields so make sure to scout the underside of leaves. I expect to see an increase of disease, particularly downy mildew on cucurbits and black rot on brassicas with the cooler temperatures and abundance of moisture.”

Arugula is looking great in this cooler weather. Photo from Zack Snipes.
Whitefiles on the underside of a cucumber leaf which will cause yield drags. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “It’s been cooler this week and we got a little rain from the remnants of Beta. Its been several days since we’ve seen the sun, also. Lots of brassicas are being harvested now and more are being planted. There is a little black rot out there and plenty of caterpillars still. Strawberry plastic has been laid in a number of places and planting is just right around the corner.”

Strawberry plastic being laid in the Midlands. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Too wet to plant greens or harvest sweet potatoes & peas.  Peas are falling down reducing yield due to the inability to combine harvest.  Sweet potatoes are beginning to rot due to the wet soils reducing yields and quality.  Farmers are having to mud through fields to harvest pickles.  Downy Mildew, Pythium leak, and belly rot are bad!”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “With the end of September, most all the local farmers markets are finishing up for the season. Online markets and specialty/holiday markets will continue, but many produce growers have finished production until spring. Apples are continuing to be about 2 weeks ahead of schedule with decent crops across the board. Some growers have experienced high rates of fungal pathogens just because of the high rain incidence.” 

‘Brooks Spot’ preliminarily identified on Granny Smith apples. Photo from Kerrie Roach.

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.

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.