Weekly Field Update – 5/24/21

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “As we mentioned last week, cucurbit downy mildew has been confirmed in cucumber crops locally. All cucurbit growers should be applying downy-mildew specific fungicides such as Ranman tank mixed with either chlorothalonil or mancozeb. Other pests and disease levels in cucurbits remain low. Tomatoes and peppers are developing well with good fruit development and low pest and disease pressure. A little bacterial spot is beginning to show in untreated crops. Applications of mancozeb or copper can help to hold the disease. Note applications are unlikely to “cure” bacterial disease. Fruit crops continue to progress with good quality and low disease. Strawberries are showing a little botrytis and anthracnose, but this is at a low level. Peaches are coming to market along with blueberries and blackberries.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Dry weather has returned to the midlands. Strawberries have slowed down and while we’re still picking a few, we are seeing very few blooms. The heat we’re expecting this week is likely to cease bloom production. The heat could be a problem for tomato and cucurbit pollination as well, as we may see some blooms die. Brassicas have been growing well. There has been an increase in diamondback moth activity over the last week. If you start seeing large DBM populations on your farms, contact your local agent about doing a bioassay to test for insecticide resistance. This is a great way to figure out which materials may work best on your farm. We don’t charge anything for this service. Don’t forget downy mildew was found this past week in cucumber in multiple places in the coastal plain, so it’s time to start preventative fungicide sprays in cukes if you haven’t already.”

An adult diamondback moth has just finished pupating and has not yet dispersed. Remember, insecticide applications should target the larval form rather than the moths. Photo from Justin Ballew

Sarah Scott reports, “We are in full swing with early variety peach harvest. Some peaches are developing a little smaller in size partly due to previous cold weather events. Something spotted in the field has been some nutrient deficiency. Growers may have been tempted to dial down nitrogen or calcium nitrate applications on peach blocks that suffered cold damage as they thought those blocks would not produce a viable harvest, however this could lead to leaf drop and less reserves for next year’s crop. If you skipped out on some of your fertilization keep in mind yellowing, spotting and leaf drop could occur. A soil application of calcium nitrate at 30lb/acre now and another in late July can help those trees recover some foliage and build up a nutrient supply for next year’s reserve. Be careful if you want a quick result and try foliar applications, as this could burn the leaves and cause more drop that you may not be able to afford.”

Nitrogen deficiency on a mid season peach variety. Photo from Sarah Scott
Discoloration from nitrogen deficiency looks similar to copper burn but has smoother edges and more rounded spots on leaves. A nutrient analysis can be taken around July to determine accurate levels. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Irrigated vegetables are looking good for the most part. Seeing some stress to tomatoes with a heavy fruit load – likely from very low humidity and very high UV. Nonirrigated crops are starting to show some drought stress. Strawberries are starting to wind down. Blueberries are finally starting to be harvested, much later than usual. Blooming on muscadines appears to really stretched out due to the Easter freeze. Early flower clusters on growth from primary buds appears to be somewhat on time. But, flower clusters developing from secondary buds are really behind… possibly 3-4 weeks (easily). Soil is really starting to get dry in many areas.”

Green beans are really coming along. Photo from Bruce McLean
Now is a good time to walk the fields and pull weeds. Over-the-top herbicides are limited for most vegetable crops, and often hand weeding is the only viable option. Vigorous weeds like pigweed can quickly overtake a field. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “The higher temperatures have started to speed-up crops. We will start to harvest pickles this week. Spraying downy mildew fungicides on cucurbits. Some farmers are starting to apply insecticide for pickleworm. They don’t want to put out insecticides this early but they see the gamble of an entire field of pickles being rejected because of 1 pickleworm as too much of a gamble. These farmers think we need a system set-up to detect pickleworm in the southern part of the state to give them a better indication of when pickleworm arrives. Harvesting greens, cabbage, and broccoli as quickly as possible. Started planting sweetpotatoes. Many farmers getting deer depredation permits for peas, beans, and sweetpotatoes. Also, many farmers are applying acephate and dimethoate to control thrips with the added benefits of repelling deer. Peppers and tomatoes are begin to load with fruit. Many farmers still harvesting strawberries.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Things in the ‘Golden Corner’ are looking up for vegetable producers, despite the dismal projection for tree fruit crops because of the cold events in April. For market growers, cool season crops are at their absolute last with 90+ degree temps forecasted for this week. Warm season crops are starting to really get growing, and many growers are starting to see some potential harvests this week. With higher than normal temps projected, make sure irrigation is consistent, scheduled and set for early morning to avoid leaf wetness late in the day and overnight and reduce disease incidence.”

Field Update – 5/10/21

Statewide

Dr. Matt Cutulle reports, “I have received calls regarding injury from Curbit in direct seeded cucumbers this year. This can be partly attributed to the colder spring we had this year and potentially seeding to shallow. Seeds germinating in that herbicide layer will have increased stunting in colder soil temperatures.”

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “Following some hail events last week, we find some shredded leaves in cucurbits and some small fruit crops. Strawberries continue to develop well, with isolated incidences of gray mold being seen. Sanitation is one of the critical methods for managing gray mold along with fungicide applications. Thrips are also beginning to be observed. Blueberries in the area are being harvested with good quality fruit. Keep a close eye on scouting for insects. Spider mites are still active in many crops. Cucumber beetles continue to increase as they are migrating from overwintering sites. Many populations are at or very close to the threshold of five adult beetles per plant.”

Zack Snipes reports, “The word in the field right now is…boring. We have had mild temperatures and not much rain so there isn’t a whole lot of disease in the fields right now. I saw the first tomato plant casualties to Bacterial wilt earlier this week. There isn’t anything you can do if you see this disease at this point. Take notes on what varieties and where you see the wilting to help with the issue next year. We have a good fruit set on the tomato crop.  We are seeing heavy volumes of squash and zucchini being picked right now. Melons are blooming in some places and in more coastal areas are sizing up.”

Bacterial wilt causes sudden wilt of tomato plants. Typically it will get a few plants within the same row. Photo from Zack Snipes.
Highbush blueberry variety trial taste test. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Last week was a tough week for strawberries. We had a couple heavy rain events, one of which brought hail with it. Several crops suffered torn leaves from the hail including strawberries, brassicas, and cucurbits. We had a lot of water damaged berries which have kept growers busy sanitizing. We are seeing higher amounts of disease since the rain including botrytis and a little bit of anthracnose fruit rot. Cyclamen mites were found in strawberries this past week. Infested plants from nurseries are a major source for cyclamen mites. The symptoms are very similar to thrips damage, so if you’re seeing crinkled, dark-colored leaves or bronzing and cracking on the fruit, reach out to your local Extension agent for help distinguishing the cause before making treatments. Also, I’m not seeing a whole lot of blooms on the plants, so we may only have a couple weeks of picking left. Keep that in mind if planning miticide or insecticide applications and plan accordingly.”

Monday afternoon hail left holes and tattered leaves in several crops across a fairly wide swath in Lexington County. Photo from Justin Ballew
Crinkled, dark colored leaves from cyclamen mites. Thrips cause similar symptoms, so be sure to determine what caused the damage before treating. Photo from Justin Ballew
Cyclamen mites on a developing strawberry (45x magnification). The arrow on the right is pointing to a juvenile mite. The arrow on the left is pointing to an egg. Photo from Justin Ballew

Sarah Scott reports, “Peach harvest has slowly started with the earliest of varieties. With the drier weather we have not seen a lot of bacterial spot however we will be on the lookout in the coming days with the forecast showing some moisture coming our way. Cover sprays continue for later varieties and we expect active scale crawlers in the next week or so.”

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Much of the northern portion of the Pee Dee received beneficial rains over the last week or so, although it did come by the way of severe storms. Damage to fruit and vegetable crops was (for the most part) minimal, with more significant damage (damaged plastic, broken tomato plants, wind damaged leaves on cucumbers and squash) localized. Vegetable planting has resumed. Thrips activity has been seen on cucurbits and peas. Disease on strawberries (primarily botrytis) has been really heavy, since we have received recent rains. Growers need to step up on old, damaged and disease fruit removal and their fungicide sprays to try to get it back under control. Blueberries are coming along… slowly. First harvest looks to be a bit behind normal timing. Muscadines did take a bit of a hit during the Easter freeze. A lot of primary buds were damaged (on Carlos and Noble muscadines) and were replaced by secondary buds. How it will affect the harvest…we’ll see.”

Lost of primary buds during the Easter freeze event forced the secondary buds to break. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “Seeing 2,4-D damage on tomatoes including a high tunnel plants near harvest, a high tunnel with transplants, and a field with plants setting fruit. Also seeing Roundup damage in a field of tomatoes and a greenhouse with thousands of many types of transplants (sprayed under beds).  We’ve seen hail damage on a strawberry field, and plastic destroyed on a high tunnel. Curbit damage on 50 acres of pickles. Planting too shallow and too much irrigation. Starting to harvest fresh market cabbage and processing collards. Pickle plants starting to run, flower, and get sprayed for belly rot. Spraying peas, beans, and cucumbers for thrips.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Things are starting to pick up speed in the Upstate. With the potential of a late frost finally past, growers have been busy planting warm season vegetable crops in the ground. Strawberries are still doing well, with heavy rains interrupting harvest only a few times early last week. This week’s weather is projected to be unseasonably cool, but not cold with potential rain for a couple days. Insect issues should continue to stay low, but growers should be monitoring closely for disease under these conditions.”

Weekly Field Update – 4/26/21

Join us this Wednesday (3/24/21) at 12:30 pm for an update from the tomato fields with Zack Snipes. It will be a relatively short meeting, lasting 30-45 minutes, so tune in while you eat your lunch. Click here to register.

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “Crops in the area continue to develop well, and I expect this to continue after some welcome rainfall over the weekend.  Following the rain over the weekend and returning to warm temperatures, keep scouting for diseases in crops and ensure fungicide applications are made promptly. Spider mites show activity in a range of crops from strawberries to peppers, tomatoes, and blackberries. Always remember to use a specific miticide for spider mite control to avoid flaring populations. Cucumber beetles are beginning to be found in sticky traps. Currently, no damage is being seen to crops. Treatment options include neonicotinoid insecticides applied as a foliar spray or through the drip system.  When treatments are made, it is possible feeding damage will be seen as the pests need to ingest the pesticide.”

Zack Snipes reports, “We finally got some rain last week that I think will benefit all of our crops. Spider mites were the talk of the community last week. I saw high populations on strawberries as well as blackberries. On farms with mixed produce, you will want to scout all crops, even if they are at a stage where they normally wouldn’t have mites. I found mites on tomatoes last week because they were adjacent to a strawberry crop. We need to get on top of this pest before its too late. There are plenty of IPM techniques and strategies for this pest. Also, if you have sprayed a product in strawberry and are considering treating other crops nearby, you may want to rotate products/chemistries from what you sprayed on strawberry. Chances are those are the same genetically similar spider mites so if you had any resistance in strawberry, or another crop, then you may see it on tomato or watermelon.”

Taking good photos of spider mites is tough but on this leaf you can see several two-spotted spider mites. Don’t wait until you see symptomatic damage to manage this pest.    

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We had a cold event in the midlands that seems like it got around 5 degrees colder in most areas than what the forecast called for. It got to 35 at my house Wednesday night/Thursday morning. South of Columbia and Lake Murray, I only heard a couple reports of light frost, but north of Columbia, I heard reports of the temperatures reaching 31. We’re certainly going to see some damage in those areas to spring crops that weren’t covered. On another note, strawberries are yielding really well right now. Growers are reporting that yields are at times outpacing sales. We finally got some rain this weekend (just under an inch at my house), so we’re going to see some water-damaged berries and the moisture will give grey mold an opportunity to increase. The rain was good news for spider mite management, as their populations had been thriving in the dry conditions. Diamondback moth populations are increasing in brassicas, so keep up with scouting.”

Strawberries have been yielding well and berry size has been quite large on some cultivars. Photo from Justin Ballew
We haven’t seen much grey mold lately, but the rain we had over the weekend may allow it to make a comeback. Photo from Justin Ballew

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Last week’s brief kiss of frost doesn’t appear to have caused any significant problems on the crops. But, it is starting to get a bit dry. Sweet corn and pea emergence has been looking good, with most locations having an excellent stand. Cucurbit crops are starting to emerge, as well. Transplant tomatoes are looking very good. Everyone is taking advantage of this beautiful weather to plant vegetable crops and blueberries… just don’t forget to irrigate. Strawberry harvest is peaking right now and the fruit looks really good. Disease pressure is pretty low, but spider mite activity is high in many locations. In blueberries, much of the damaged fruit (from the Easter freeze) is beginning to shed off of the plant. Hopefully, this will continue… so lingering damaged fruit will not slow down harvest (starting in a few weeks). Muscadines are starting to show some early flower bud development.”

Early flower bud development in Carlos muscadine. Photo from Bruce McLean.
Crimson clover cover crop in a muscadine vineyard is a beautiful sight to see. It serves as a great habitat for beneficial insects. Photo from Bruce McLean.
Blueberries planted on plastic mulch covered beds. The plastic reduces the development of weeds, thereby reducing competition for the newly planted blueberry plants. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “Peppers, cucumber, and tomatoes are just sitting and not growing. Extra fertilizer will do little for growth in these cool conditions. Cabbage needs to be sprayed for thrips, sclerotinia, and caterpillars. Cabbage, collards, and greens are loving the cool weather and hauling butt, so side-dress to keep growing. Strawberries are loving these cool conditions and are really producing. We are having an overabundance of local strawberries making them hard to sell – many are being discarded. Just a small amount of wind damage. Tomatoes, peppers, and cucumber plants were not big enough to act like a sail and be blown (twisted-off) in the wind. Got just enough rain to start planting dryland peas. I know I will regret saying this – “but I hope it warms up soon.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Every day brings us a little closer to May in the Upstate, and with that brings a little less chance of a frost or freeze event. Last week Thursday brought on lows of 30-32 degrees F in many places causing damage to warm season crops as well as landscapes across the upstate. Strawberry growers have slowed since the cool weather, but production will start to pick back up with warmer days and nights this week.”

Weekly Field Update – 4/12/21

Statewide

Dr. Matt Cutulle reports, “I am starting to see some goosegrass popping due to soil temperatures being 65 F. Goosegrass will typically be problematic in more compacted areas of the field. In most broadleaf crops a Select or Poast post-emergent application will control emerged goosegrass. PRE herbicide options include Curbit and Dual Magnum (If crop is labeled). In rice it is important to remember that Quinclorac products will kill crabgrass but not goosegrass. The best rice product that will control goosegrass effectively in SC is Clincher.”

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “Crops are generally doing well in the area, with strawberries coming off with good volumes. On the whole, row covers or icing protected 97% of the susceptible flowers leading to 1-2% losses of flowers. The damaged flowers can increase grey mold pressure in the crops so, maintaining both sanitation and fungicide applications to strawberries will be crucial. As berries ripen, sanitation also becomes essential for reducing pest pressure from sap beetles. In some crops, where row covers were utilized, we see spider mite populations increasing and a few active thrips feeding on both flowers and berries. Other fruit crops in the area, such as blackberries and blueberries, look very good with low levels of damage from the freeze event last weekend. Peaches in the area are being thinned, with scouting being maintained for scale and plum curculio. Early planted watermelons did suffer from the frost in places, leading to 10-15% plant loss and hence the need to replant in a few areas. Other crops are moving slowly away from the injuries. Luckily a lot of crops were not beginning to vine and survived the worst of the damage. These plants are stressed, so care will be needed with any applications as well as scouting for pest and disease issues. Conversely, Cantaloupes in the area were direct seeded and have survived unscathed.”

Zack Snipes reports, “I was out and about last week as things are moving rather quickly in the fields. Spider mites are alive and active in every strawberry patch that I was in last week. You will see the translucent mite with 2 distinct spots as well as a reddish colored mite. The reddish colored mite is actually a two-spotted spider mite. We see this red form early in the season. Get out and scout as the weather is perfect for them. I am also seeing strawberry plants wilting down and dying. If you cut the crown you will see a brown/red rot in the center of the crown. Send these plants off for diagnosis. Most of what I have seen has been Phytophthora. We lost some cucurbit crops to the frost last weekend but some areas had no damage at all or slight damage. For some positive news, we are cutting some beautiful broccoli right now.”

Lower lying areas of fields or areas where the drip tape was nicked is where I am seeing some root rot issues. Photo from Zack Snipes.
Cutting the crown of wilting strawberry plants can help detect the pathogen responsible.  Sending off to the lab is the only way to get a 100% diagnosis of the problem. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Strawberry picking started on a wider scale this past week. This conveniently coincided with spring break for a lot of the public schools in our area, so U-pick operations have been busy. The weather was very mild last week, so everything is looking great. Spider mite and grey mold activity seems to be very low. There are a few thrips in certain places, so that’s something we need to keep an eye on. Brassicas are growing well. Caterpillar populations are still pretty low in most spring planted crops. There was a little injury to sweet corn from the recent frosts, but we expect the plants to grow out of it. Sweet corn’s growing point is underground until the 6 leaf stage. Since pretty much all the sweet corn was at the 3 leaf stage or younger, the growing points were protected and the damage is just superficial.”

Strawberry season has finally arrived in the Midlands. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “We are still assessing peach crop damage from freeze events happening between 4/1 and 4/3. It looks like anywhere from 1/4 to 1/3 of fruitlets were damaged by the cold event but with no additional damage we should still be on track for a good crop this year.  Strawberries were delayed a bit from the cold but are recovering nicely. Planting continues for crops like kale and other spring greens.”

Peach fruitlets at shuck off. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Strawberries are really starting to come off. The quality is very good, and the plants are in good health. Disease is relatively low and spider mite activity is moderate. Damage was minimal from the freeze before Easter. We did see some damage on blueberries, though. Blueberries without frost protection (in especially cold locations) did see some significant injury to both early southern highbush and early rabbiteye cultivars. Injury of 80% was observed in Star and O’Neal (southern highbush) and Premier (rabbiteye). Blueberries with frost protection fared much better. This shows the importance of having well-designed frost protection if you are going to grow early-blooming cultivars. Muscadines, being at budbreak, did not show any significant injury. Farmers are taking advantage of this absolutely beautiful weather to plant vegetables. Sweet corn, peas, butterbeans, cucumbers, squash, melons, tomatoes, etc. are going in the ground as fast as they can. Blueberries are being planted now too.

Black and brown seed and tissue within the berry shows that the fruit was injured from the freeze and will not develop. Photo from Bruce McLean.
Damage to early fruitlets on rabbiteye blueberry. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “Most strawberries are doing well and really starting to produce a lot of fruit. Cabbage is starting to head and is growing well. Brassica growers are applying products for diamondback moth and Sclerotinia. Some pickles are emerging and many acres will be planted this week. Some butterbeans are up and more are being planted. We will start to planting peas this week. Cool temperatures slowed sweetpotato slip growth a little, but most beds are covered with slips. Collards, turnips, and kale are growing fast. Hundreds of acres of tomatoes and peppers are already planted. A few acres of watermelons and cantaloupes are planted, but our main market is after the 4th of July.”

Weekly Field Update – 3/15/21

If you haven’t already filled out the Clemson Agribusiness Team’s COVID-19 Ag Impacts Survey, please take a minute to do so now. Click the graphic below or scan the QR code with your iPhone to access the survey. If you have any questions about the survey or the results, please reach out to Kevin Burkett, Kburke5@clemson.edu, 540-239-4602.

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “Strawberry crops in the area are developing well with good fruit set. I am seeing a little gray mold around, so sanitation is going to be key as well as fungicide applications. There are also a few thrips in some crops, so scouting for these pests will be very important. Peaches and blueberries are blooming with little evidence of any chill injury from last weeks overnight lows in the upper 20’s. Asparagus crops are beginning to come to market with some chill affected spears early last week. With the dry weather conditions, field work and land prep is going well with plastic being laid for melon crops.”

Zack Snipes reports, “Great week of weather in the Lowcountry which has really improved the way things are looking. Greens, lettuces, root crops, and strawberries are looking good. The strawberries are absolutely loaded up with blossoms right now and are still putting on crowns. Fall planted cover crops are finishing up and being turned under. A bit of sad news this week as Author “Ikee” Freeman passed away. Ikee was a huge supporter of Clemson Extension and the farming traditions in the Lowcountry of South Carolina. His friendship, mentorship, leadership, and sense of humor will be missed by many.”

A fall planted daikon radish cover crop is flowering which provides early season nectar, pollen, and habitat for beneficial insects and bees. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We had another beautiful week of weather last week that really pushed plants along. Strawberries have a ton of blooms on them now. The weather has been pretty dry the last two weeks, but with a few days of rain in the forecast for this week, now would be a good time to throw one of the site specific fungicides into your fungicide rotation. Temperatures are still in the perfect range for Botrytis spore development (60-70 degrees F) and with moisture returning, we could see a lot of Botrytis in the next week or two.

Lots of blooms present now that we need to protect from Botrytis. Photo from Justin Ballew.
These are the site specific fungicides listed on the MyIPM app with the best efficacy for Botrytis control on strawberries. It would be a good idea to apply one of these ahead of the rain this week.

Sarah Scott reports, “Last week’s warm temperatures have pushed peaches into bloom. There was a significant increase in open buds from the beginning to end of the week. Early varieties are near 90% bloom. Temperatures look like they will level out in the next 7 days which is good as temperatures that are way above normal can lead to developmental damage for fruit set. Some pruning is still underway, as well as bloom sprays for blossom blight using products like Captan or chlorothalonil.”

Upstate

Andy Rollins reports, “So far peach season is off to great start. We got all of our chill hours in and are between pink and 5% blooms on all large scale varieties, with a few oddballs further along. Plum growers are even further along and many are preparing for bloom fungicide applications with primarily Bravo (Chlorothalonil). I will be repeating last years testing of new biological, Ecoswing, in bloom this week compared with Bravo. Strawberry production is progressing nicely. This week looks good as far as frost but things change quickly, so all growers will be intimately aware of every weather change at this point. I was very happy to help with a new 10 acre pecan orchard planted last week. It encouraged me because several local growers, University of Georgia specialist, a retired NRCS conservationist, and myself all worked together to help a widow in need. Her planning and execution was impeccable and diligent.”

10 acres of new pecan trees planted last week. Photo from Andy Rollins.

Weekly Field Update – 3/8/21

Statewide

Dr. Matt Cutulle reports, “Anyone planting spring broccoli should be wary of the cold weather we have had regarding soil herbicide interactions. Be careful with Pre-transplant applications of Devrinol and to a lesser extent Dual Magnum, as they can cause some stunting when soil temperatures are cooler. Goal or Goaltender is the safest pre-transplant herbicide applied when the soil temperatures based on field studies in Charleston.”

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “We had some sunshine last week which really brightened everything up. The last few nights have been cool with some frost on the ground in the mornings. Things are starting to green up and fields are drying out enough to plant. We are still direct-seeding crops around the region and will begin transplanting tomatoes in some areas this week. I spent last week checking strawberry fields to make sure things were good to go before they really bust out. I have been helping folks calibrate their drip fertigation systems for the upcoming season. If you think you need a hand with this please let me know. Dialing in exactly how much fertilizer to use each day or week can really increase yields and lessen the amount of fertilizer that is leached. Leaching fertilizer means your plants aren’t taking it up, thus costing you money.”

Venturi type fertigation injector on a strawberry farm.  Dialing in your fertility can really increase yields and reduce leaching of fertilizer. Photo from Zack Snipes.
A nice patch of ball clover in the drive row of strawberry.  We planted this to hold the soil, reduce sand on the berries, withstand foot traffic, and bring in early season beneficials to help with thrips control. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We had several beautiful, sunny days last week. The warm days seemed to really push plants along. Last night got cool (29 degrees at my house) and strawberry growers had to pull row covers over the fields to protect the blooms. We have some small, developing fruit now that would easily be damaged without row covers. I’m seeing very few spider mites in fields, even though conditions have turned dry here in the midlands. Remember that Botrytis spore production is high when temperatures are in the 60 to 70 degree range, so we need to be staying on top of our spray programs right now. In other news, brassica planting continues and for now caterpillar pressure seems to be light.”

Small developing strawberries like this one can be damaged easily by cold. Photo from Justin Ballew
Internal discoloration of the two strawberries on top indicate cold damage. These fruit will not ripen and will become excellent sources of Botrytis inoculum. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Boy, it got a bit chilly last night. Still looking at temperatures for the area, but it would be a safe bet that much of the area saw 28 degrees or lower. Strawberries were covered, so little problems there. Blueberries did see some damage on blooms that had fully opened. Most of the flowers were still in the Early Pink Bud stage or at Budbreak, so no damage to those blooms. Frost protection could have saved those flowers and potential fruit, but it is still early in the season. Keeping our fingers crossed that we don’t see any more nights of freezing temperatures.”

Early pink stage in bluberry flowering. Photo from Bruce McLean.
Damaged corollas (flowers) on blueberries. Likely experienced 28 degrees or lower. Photo from Bruce McLean.

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 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 – 8/3/20

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.