At this time, due to COVID-19, all in-person Clemson Extension meetings have been postponed through June 1st. Keep an eye on the COVID-19 Resources page for updates.
The SCDA’s list of farms offering deliveries and pick-ups has grown significantly in the last week. View or contact LauraKate McAllister to be added to the list here.
Zack Snipes reports, “The weather has significantly warmed which has really helped our crops. Strawberries are in peak production and growers are seeing record sales. Other direct market growers are seeing higher sales numbers right now as well. Tomatoes are looking good with no issues. Highbush blueberries are looking like they will have a decent crop and should be coming off soon. I have seen some freeze damage on the earliest varieties of highbush that endured very cold temperatures. Later season rabbiteye blueberries are in full bloom right now.”
Justin Ballew reports, “The first half of last week was very wet, the second half was very warm. Strawberries are growing well, but harvest volumes haven’t picked up yet. Growers are easily selling everything they pick. Keep scouting for spider mites. After a very easy fall and winter, caterpillar populations are starting to climb in brassica crops. Be sure to get out and scout for those. Sweet corn is also up and growing.
Sarah Scott reports, “Fruit is developing nicely on peach trees with little to no signs of cold damage at this time. Vegetable transplants are going in now including squash, bell peppers, and eggplant. Strawberry harvest has begun. Spider mite populations are slightly high right now.
Bruce McLean report, “It has just about turned into summer with temperatures (over the last few days) in the mid and upper 80s… and the crops have really responded. Muscadines have started leafing out across the region, with some early flower development occurring. Later blueberry varieties (like Tifblue, Onslow and Powderblue) are blooming heavily, while earlier varieties of blueberries have completed flowering, or getting near to completion. Strawberries are blooming and fruiting heavily, and there are some light volumes being picked now. Angular leaf spot is showing up on some strawberries. This is due to the wet conditions that we have been experienced, this year. Spider mites are still being found in strawberries. So, regular scouting is necessary.”
Tony Melton reports, “Growers are preparing land, bedding, and planting before this rain gets here. Most early sweetcorn is planted. Sweet potato beds are sprouting – along with weeds- kill the weeds now. Fresh market tomatoes and pepper are being planted. I have seen a lot of ugly strawberries from cinch bugs, stinkbugs, thrips, boron deficiency, etc. Butterbeans are being rapidly planted. Processing tomato and pepper land has been treated with Vapam- always follow all label directions. Cabbage is beginning to cup. There is more demand than strawberry supply right now.”
Kerrie Roach reports, “Growers are trying to stay ahead of the game with some social distance mowing. No freeze damage spotted so far on apples or peaches in the Long Creek/Mt. Rest area. Bloom is very erratic and varies from tree to tree. Picture is of Mike Ables, with Ables Orchard bush hogging and a granny smith in full bloom.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
Zack Snipes reports, “Everyone is busy in the Low country harvesting summer crops. This should be a big week for us in the field and at local markets and roadside stands as July 4 approaches. The tomato crop is either finished or finishing up this week.”
Justin Ballew reports, “It’s getting hot here in the midlands and it’s getting dry too. Harvest is still going strong on a number of crops. We have a reduced blueberry crop because of the hot, dry weather back in May, but picking is going on now. Lots of hemp has been planted in the last two weeks and is growing well.”
Sarah Scott reports, “We are picking several summer varieties of peaches along the Ridge, many varieties coming in early. Freestone peaches are beginning to ripen and become available. A second population of Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs is near its peak based on high numbers found in traps across the Ridge. Be on the lookout for egg masses, generally in groups of 28 eggs. (picture) BMSB damage from earlier populations causes distortion as fruit ripens. Damage goes beyond skin into flesh.
Pee Dee Region
Bruce McLean reports, “Harvest for many vegetable crops are rolling right along. Watermelons and cantaloupes are starting to see some volume. Early season rabbiteye blueberries are starting to wrap up. Mid and late season rabbiteyes are looking good. Heat and dry weather is starting to have an impact on crops, even those with irrigation. Growers are adjusting irrigation schedules to compensate for the increased heat and the lack of rain.”
Tony Melton reports, “Downy Mildew is showing up in later planted cantaloupes, cucumbers, and squash. First planting of cantaloupes and watermelons are winding down. Processing peas are drying and will be terminated soon for harvest. Butterbeans that reset pods after heat at the beginning of June will begin harvest this week. Sweet potato planting is winding down many of the first planted are laid-by. Pepper and eggplant harvest has begun.”
Dr. Tony Keinath reports,”Powdery mildew was found on watermelon at the Coastal REC on May 30. Typical symptoms of powdery mildew on watermelon are distinct yellow spots, although the spots may be indistinct yellow blotches rather than round spots. The symptoms seen this week included more browning than is typical for the size of the spots, perhaps due to unusually hot weather. To manage powdery mildew on watermelon and other cucurbits, click here. Powdery mildew-resistant cultivars of cucumber and cantaloupe are holding up well, but squashes with partial resistance to powdery mildew should be sprayed.”
Zack Snipes reports, “Another week without rain for most of the Lowcountry. The irrigated crops that have gotten enough water and look great including tomato, watermelon, cantaloupe, cucumbers, and squash. We are at the beginning of tomato, melon, rabbiteye blueberry, and blackberry harvest. Blueberry growers will want to look out for anthracnose fruit rot in harvested berries. There is nothing that can be done this year but we can work on spray programs for next year. The tomato crop looks great except for the usual bacterial wilt and southern blight. I heard of a few hot spots of spider mites last week so scout regularly especially during this hot and dry period.”
Anthracnose in blueberries. The photo on the right shows berries that were just picked. The berries on the left were picked 3 days prior to the photo being taken and stored at room temperature. You can see the orange spore masses on some of the berries. Photos from Zack Snipes.
Justin Ballew reports,”Last week was another hot, dry week. It’s been 23 days now since we’ve had rain that amounted to anything more than a brief sprinkle. Irrigation systems are not getting much rest. Squash and zucchini yields have suffered some, most likely because bee activity decreases when it is extremely hot and dry. We have some blueberries that are suffering because the drip system is not able to keep up with the water demand. Other irrigated crops like sweet corn, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant are looking fine. We need rain pretty badly, though.
Sarah Scott reports, “Things are busy and man has it been HOT! I’ve been speaking with Brett Blauuw, entomologist from UGA, about what to expect when the temps dip back down to “normal” as far as the pest outlook is concerned and here are some notes from our conversation:
- Scale insects tend to become inactive at temperatures greater than 90, but they will continue to develop at night when the temperatures dip back down. The activity should decrease compared to a ’normal’ spring where it’s in the 80s. We still have a couple of weeks before we see another peak abundance of scale crawlers.
- Stink bugs don’t mind the heat much. The adults that emerged from overwintering are dying right now, so the numbers are declining but, they have laid eggs and the nymphs will be developing. In a couple of weeks we should expect another large number of BMSB adults.
- Plum curculio is also more abundant and active this year. Still catching adults down in Fort Valley, so that is another concern.
- Thrips, unfortunately love hot, dry climates, so right now is the perfect weather for them. For organic producers, Entrust is an affective product.”
Coastal: Zack Snipes reports, “Beautiful sunny weather has really pushed our spring crops this week. We received some spotty thunderstorms this weekend that will help dryland crops as well as settle some dust. We are approaching the end of strawberry season as berries are getting smaller. Be sure to keep plants clean these next few weeks as berries develop quicker. When berries develop quicker it is harder to keep them picked thus allowing pests such as spotted wing drosophila and botrytis to settle in. We are seeing beautiful tomato, eggplant, and cucurbit crops growing off throughout the region. We began squash and zucchini harvest this past week and are in the middle of highbush blueberry harvest.”
Midlands: Justin Ballew reports, “It was very sunny and warm last week. Storms came in Saturday afternoon and brought around 1.5 inches of rain. This was good for just about everything except for the strawberries. We are seeing a ton of water damage on berries now and grey mold has also picked up. Spider mite populations were building last week as well, so keep scouting for those. Spring and summer crops are looking great and growing fast. Stringing has started in tomatoes, heading brassicas are developing well, and leafy brassicas are being harvested daily.
Sarah Scott reports peach picking in the Ridge will begin this week with early varieties. “The season is on track for 2019 with a good crop load of early variety peaches. Bacteriosis is visible on some peaches once color begins to develop. Copper applications are critical to maintain best fruit quality. Refer to the 2019 Peach and Nectarine and Plum Pest Management and Culture Guide for recommendations.
Upstate: Kerrie Roach reports, “It’s been a great week for growers in the Upstate. Peaches are coming along nicely and apples are not far behind at about thumb size. Spring vegetables are in the ground with many producers projected to start picking squash in just a week or two. Farmers Markets have slowly started opening with mainly cool season crops. We are hoping for another great week of growing weather!”