Weekly Field Update – 3/29/21

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “Strawberry crops continue to develop well with sustained flowering and fruit set. Early crops are ripening well with crops coming to market. Just a note of caution, the weather last week can be conducive to gray mold development, so fungicide programs are going to be key. Thrips are active in some crops too, so keep scouting. Melon transplants are going in the ground over the last week with development looking very promising. Peaches in the area are all but finished flowering with great fruit set. Finally, as we are looking at a cooler week for flowering fruit crops, keep an eye on the forecast temperatures to determine if protection is going to be required. Fruit and closed buds can tolerate cooler temperatures than flowers, but damaged flowers can increase gray mold development.”

Strawberries continue to develop well in the Coastal region. Photo from Rob Last.

Zack Snipes reports, “We have had pretty good weather as of late and it has really made things jump here.  Spring greens, onions, radishes, carrots, and strawberries are really pushing out hard.  I counted 57 green berries+flowers on one strawberry plant. If someone can beat that number, I will give you a Free Crop Handbook. The blueberry crop is looking great with a good fruit set on highbush varieties and tons of flowers right now on the rabbiteye types.  We planted around 30 citrus trees on Friday as part of a Specialty Crop Block Grant.  We have around 75 more to plant next year.  All in all we will plant somewhere around 40 varieties with varying scion and rootstock combinations.  We are looking at cold tolerance in both the lab and a field setting and monitoring for citrus greening.  We will plant everything from kumquat to grapefruit to finger limes.

Newly planted citrus trees at the Coastal REC this past week. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Last week was pretty cloudy, but we had a couple beautiful days that reached the 80s. Though we’ve had a little bit of rain, the air has been thick with pine pollen. We’re seeing a few strawberries ripen but we’re still not at the point where we can open the U-Picks. We’re running a little behind where we’ve been in the past few years and I suspect all the cloudy weather we’ve had over the last month is partially to blame. I’m seeing a good bit of misshapen fruit, which is normal for the very first fruit that develop. This is usually related to pollination, but make sure you tissue sample to make sure boron levels are where they need to be. Watch out for the cool nights in the forecast later this week. We may need to cover. Spring planted brassica crops are looking good. Diamondback moths are showing up in places, especially near fields where a fall crop was grown through the winter, so be sure to destroy those fields once harvest is finished.”

Misshapen fruit are pretty common early in the season. Its usually related to pollination, but can be a sign of low boron. Tissue sample to make sure boron levels are adequate. Photo from Justin Ballew.
Spring planted brassicas are growing well and looking good. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Peaches are progressing quickly with small fruit forming on early varieties. Georgia has reported plum curculio activity in the middle part of the state so orchards in the Ridge of SC can expect to see activity in about 2 weeks. Check the 2021 management guide for control options which include Imidan, Actara, Belay, and Avaunt. Strawberries farms are on track to begin picking regularly April 1. Spring greens are being transplanted as well.”

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Strawberries are ready to burst forth and there are already some fruit on Ruby June. Working to protect strawberries and peaches later on this week. A lot of summer crops will be going into the ground after Easter. Pickle growers are biting at the bit.  Most greens are just emerging. Cabbage is enjoying the weather and getting to what I call the whirl stage so hope we have no damaging winds to wring them off. Sweet potatoes slips are just emerging on the beds.”

Upstate

Weekly Field Update – 2/15/21

Don’t forget to check out the Upcoming Meetings page for all the meetings coming up over the next couple months. There are 2 coming up this week: Strawberry Fertility Wednesday (2/17) and Produce Safety Rule Training on Thursday and Friday afternoon (2/18 and 2/19).  We hope to see you there!

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “I haven’t been out in the fields lately due to all of the rain. Hopefully it will dry out some this week as we really need some bluebird sky days. If and when you are able to get out in the strawberry fields, it is time to put out boron. Boron helps with flower and fruit development. If you miss this application you will have lots of “bull nose” fruit in a few weeks. We recommend 1/8 lb of actual boron. Please see the picture for calculations of different products. Be extremely careful with mixing, calibrating, and applying boron as boron is a great herbicide if overapplied. Boron can be sprayed or run through the drip system.

Be sure to put out the correct amount of boron. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “It’s been raining a lot since Thursday (2/11) here in the midlands. The soil is saturated in some of the less sandy areas and it will be a while before fields are dry enough to work. Sandier areas likely won’t be delayed much. Before the rain came, folks were harvesting some nice looking greens, though I am seeing some disease pop up in places. Strawberries are still coming along. I know of one fairly large grower that has already started protecting blooms. More will probably start soon.”

Good looking mustard ready for picking. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “It has been extremely wet throughout Aiken and Edgefield Counties the past week, making field work challenging. In peach orchards, we are continuing to prune and trying to get out dormant oil applications and copper. It appears there is a shortage of Captan this year. There are alternatives for use during bloom as well as at petal fall, just something to look into if you usually use this product. You can read about some alternatives here https://site.extension.uga.edu/peaches/2021/02/captan-shortage/ . Again, it looks like we will have plenty of chill hours for the crop this year with Musser Farm sitting at over 1000 and around 950 hours in Johnston.”

Field Update – 1/27/20

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “As the weather dipped last week I had lots of calls about covering strawberries.  Some growers thought they had enough plant and blooms that they should cover while others left them exposed to the cold.  On most farms, the frost damage was very minimal with only blooms facing upwards having damage.  Whether you covered or not, it is imperative that you sanitize your plants by removing dead fruit, blossoms, and leaf tissue.  Start clean this year.  Now would be a great time to get an application of boron in.  Boron is used in fruit and flower development.  Many times gnarled fruit can be attributed to boron deficiency.  1/8 of an actual pound of boron is recommended and can be applied via drip or spray.  Be careful to mix correctly as boron is an excellent herbicide if rates are too high.  Don’t forget about the Preplant Growers Meeting at the USDA in Charleston at 8:30-lunch on Wednesday.”

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Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “The first part of last week was cold. There were a lot of blooms and small green fruit on the strawberries that were damaged, but it was too early to be saving those anyway.  Just make sure to remove the dead fruit and blooms by the time we start saving blooms in the spring.  Brassicas made it through the cold with little damage, but Sclerotinia white mold continues to progress in some fields.”

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Strawberry blooms turning brown from cold damage. Photo from Justin Ballew

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Sclerotinia white mold infection on a collard stem. Photo from Justin Ballew

 

Sarah Scott reports, “We are still harvesting cabbage, kale, collards, and other greens at this time. Wet weather is causing some rot issues in fields especially in low spots with heavy soils. Peach trees are being planted. The Ridge area has not accumulated enough chill hours at this time for higher chill varieties but the extended forecast looks promising for that to happen. Weeds are popping up in strawberry fields from the warmer temperatures. Henbit growing in the holes with strawberry plants needs to be hand pulled as there is not an effective herbicide to use that will not cause injury to the strawberries.

Lalo Toledo reports, “Spider mite populations in strawberries have been steady in our area. This cold weather has put them behind, but they will recover. Remember to start spraying your protective fungicides on strawberries as soon as possible. Processing greens are doing great with some bacterial spots here and there. Fresh market collards are presenting cold damage across the county. Sclerotinia is still prevalent in many brassica crops such as cauliflower and cabbage. Please refer to the vegetable handbook for proper fungicide recommendations.”

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Cold damage on collard foliage. Photo from Lalo Toledo.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Cold temps set flowering/fruiting of strawberries back to ground zero.  Growers got some land for greens bedded.”