Field Update – 3/23/20

COVID-19 continues to be a major concern for produce farmers and consumers. We’ve put together a new tab labeled “COVID-19 Resources” which includes a number of resources from Clemson, SC Dept. of Agriculture, SC Farm Bureau, and Carolina Farm Stewardship Association. Additions are being made regularly, so check back often.

Also, AgriSafe is offering a webinar this afternoon titled “What Ag Producers Need to Know About COVID-19.” If you are interested in participating, click here.

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “Amid the COVID-19 outbreak the weather has really helped out our crops here in the Lowcounty.  Strawberries are pushing out with great flavor and size after a break the past few weeks.  Tomatoes are still being planted and look great with the warm sunny weather we have had.  Winter and early spring crops are being harvested and look beautiful right now.  I have seen some brassica fields beginning to bolt with the longer days and warming weather so get them out of the fields soon. If you are having trouble selling produce consider contacting LauraKate McAllister to be put on the SC Dept of Ag “Find Local Farm Fresh Food During COVID-19” list.

Clemson Extension will be posting on social media and the Home Garden Information Center about this webpage so your farm will want to be highlighted there.  Clemson Extension is here to help everyone through this time so feel free to reach out to us.”

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Strawberries are coming along in the Lowcountry. Photo from Zack Snipes.

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Tomatoes are being planted and look good so far. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “The weather was beautiful last week and crops in the field are developing fast.  Some of our strawberry growers have begun picking. Once yields pick up a little, most are still planning to have U-pick, with some precautions. Early reports are that sales have been good despite concerns that coronavirus would hurt demand.  Spider mites have still been showing up, so keep scouting regularly.  The drier weather last week slowed disease down, but moisture is returning to the forecast this week, so don’t let up on spray programs.”

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Strawberry picking has begun in the midlands. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Started planting Butterbeans and snap beans to beat the heat.  Also planting Squash and other cucurbits from seed.  There aren’t enough strawberries right now to meet the demand as everyone wants the first strawberries.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Upstate peaches are bursting with blooms and many apple varieties are starting to show silver and even green tip stages. We are excited about the season and are continuing to monitor temperatures. More rain again today.”

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Peach blooms at Bryson’s Orchard in Long Creek, SC.  Photo from Reba Butts.

Field Update – 2/17/20

Statewide

Dr. Matt Cutulle reports, “Love is in the air, and your crabgrass (Digitaria spp.) PRE herbicides should be on the ground if you are in the Low Country.  When soil temperatures reach 55 F for 2 to 3 days, which will usually occur before March 1st in the Low Country, March 15th in the Midlands and March 30th for the upstate crabgrass germination is possible and can continue throughout the spring and summer. No matter how well crabgrass has been controlled in previous years, there is still a tremendous seed bank in the soil and open spots in crop canopy will allow this fast-growing summer annual to invade. Crabgrass’ rapid emergence and extremely fast growth rate make it a problematic weed in early spring to summer.  One study by NC State showed that for every week large crabgrass emergence was delayed an increase in 373 watermelon fruit was observed. This relatively small grassy weed can cause a big problem in early season cucurbit crop plantings.”

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Crabgrass seedlings. Photo from Virginia Tech

 

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “A wet week is coming to the Lowcountry.  Most farms are discing up land and pressing beds in preparation for the season.  I saw some potatoes going in last week on a farm or two.  If you have strawberries and have started spraying, then keep spraying.  Protectant fungicides applied before a weather event are the best measure at preventing disease.  The weather coming is perfect for gray mold and Anthracnose to develop.  If you have a smartphone download the MYIPM app (make sure to use WiFi) to key you in on diseases and preventative measures for small fruits.

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Land being prepped for spring vegetables. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “More rain on the horizon.  Lots of collards are bolting and fall brassicas, in general, are wrapping up.  Some spring brassicas have already been planted.  Black rot is showing up in some fields following the storms and warm weather, so if, you’re done with a field, get rid of it!  It never got cold enough Friday to kill strawberry blooms, but lots of growers had their row covers on just in case.  Growers are protecting blooms from now on. This will have us picking around mid-March.  Make sure to sanitize the fields as soon as it stops raining and it’s safe to pull off the row covers and start your fungicide programs and fertigation now.

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Black rot showing up in collards after the recent storms.  Photo from Justin Ballew.

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Workers busy putting row covers on strawberries.  Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Bruce McClean reports, “We have been on a bit of a roller coaster for the last couple of weeks… warm temps separated by brief periods of cool, windy conditions. The cool weather has not been that severe or persistent, and the warmer weather has been much more dominant. This has caused crops like blueberries and strawberries to really start to push. Heavy flowering in both crops is very evident now. With strawberries, we’re not too worried about losing early blooms… the plant will make more. But with blueberries, persistent early warm temps can ruin the upcoming season’s crop quickly. Some growers have asked about frost protecting this early. The challenge is “do you have enough water to protect until all risk of frost is gone”… likely not. The only thing worse than losing a crop because you didn’t frost protect is frost protecting all winter only to run out of water on the last night of freezing temps. Try to assess how much water supply you have and try to make decisions based on that. If you need help, please reach out to Clemson Extension for assistance.

Some chores to be doing now – finish up pruning your vineyards and orchards over the next week, or so. Look closely for dead wood in your vineyard, especially on the cordons. Now is the best time to identify it and remove it. Also, if you are planning to do some hardwood propagation on blueberries, now is the time to select one-year-old canes for cuttings. Be sure to keep them bagged (with moist peat moss or pine bark) and refrigerated until you are ready to sprig in the spring.

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Unhealthy muscadine condon that needs to be pruned out. Photo from Bruce McLean

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Hardwood blueberry cutting. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “Farmers wish the rain would stop so they can get greens planted.  One way to keep plants from growing too tall in the greenhouse is blowing with a leaf blower every day it will harden them off and cause them to be shorter.  Time to bed sweet potatoes for slips if not to wet.  If you’ve started to save/protect strawberries, blueberries, peaches, etc. (some already in full bloom) get ready for Friday night.