Weekly Field Update – 3/22/21

Join us this Wednesday (3/24/21) at 12:30 pm for a discussion on diamondback moth management in Brassica crops. It will be a relatively short meeting, lasting around 45 minutes, so tune in while you eat your lunch. Click here to register.

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “We got some needed rain but we got a lot of it in a short amount of time.  Winter peas and spring planted brassicas are looking good.  Tomato and squash are in the ground on some farms but because of the cooler weather and soil temperatures, really haven’t taken off yet.  I see a lot of brassica fields leftover from the fall.  These fields are harboring all of our insects and diseases that we will have to fight this coming season.  Mow these fields down and turn them under. Do not leave them.  I am seeing lots and lots of diamondback moths and black rot in these leftover fields.  Some more sad news this week from the Lowcounty as Mr. Adair McKoy, Sr. passed away this past week. Mr. McKoy was full of wisdom and had years and years of practical farming knowledge that he loved sharing with others.  Never did I visit him when I didn’t learn something new.  His love and care for the land was truly inspirational.”

Leftover collards from the fall that need to be mowed and tilled in. Photo from Zack Snipes.
A diamond back moth, one of thousands, I found in the leftover collard field. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We had some cooler, wetter weather last week that slowed things down a bit in the fields. Several brassica fields that were planted in the fall and grew through the winter are right on the verge of bolting. If harvest is finished in these field, they need to be bush hogged and disked in as soon as possible to keep diamondback moths and any other caterpillars from breeding and making their way into spring planted fields. Strawberries are still coming along. There are lots of green fruit and a few are ripening here and there. I heard of the first few being picked in Lexington County last week. The weather conditions this week are going to be perfect again for Botrytis spore development, so don’t let up on spray programs.”

Fall planted mustard is just starting to send up flower heads. Photo from Justin Ballew
Lots of developing fruit on strawberries. Photo from Justin Ballew

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 – 3/1/21

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 – 1/11/21

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “Vegetable crops are growing out of the impacts of frost well. There is active Alternaria in places on brassica crops. Insect activity in vegetable crops in the area remains low. Strawberry crops are moving well with a few spider mites and aphids being observed. Remember if mite treatment is needed use a specific miticide to target the pest to avoid flaring populations. If you need a second pair of eyes to help scout then please give me a shout.”

Zack Snipes reports, “I’ve been getting a good many calls about strawberries in recent weeks.  The warm weather has really pushed our berries, perhaps too far along for this time of year.  I know of a couple of farms that are already harvesting which I’m not sure is a great thing this early in the season.  Most fields look good with great growth but we only have a few crowns for each plant.  Hopefully some cool weather will come in and slow them down.  Make sure to sanitize the plants by removing all dead tissue and put out a preventative spray once you are done sanitizing.  Good preventative sanitization right now can do wonders for disease management later in the season.  Now is a good time to manage weeds before they get too large.  And while I am at it…now is the perfect time to get ready for the season by checking sprayers, getting fertigation systems set up and calibrated, and purchasing pesticides you know you will need for the season.” 

A sanitized plant and the dead and diseased tissue that came off of it. This needs to be taken out of the field and disposed of. Photo from Zack Snipes.
Corn spurry is a weed that needs to be managed now before its too late. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “The weather has remained cool, so everything is growing pretty slowly. We had another very rainy day last week and we got a little over 2 inches at my house. That’s over 6 inches for me so far in 2021 and I’ve had some folks tell me they’ve gotten over 8. We are seeing some cold damage to strawberry foliage, but nothing to worry about long term. Just make sure to sanitize any dead leaves and flowers as the temperatures warm in the spring. I’ve already seen some Botrytis developing on dead flowers, so we definitely need to remove these sources of disease inoculum. I’m counting 2-3 crowns per plant right now. If you’re behind that, it may be helpful to put row covers on for a couple weeks. Just scout for spider mites carefully first.”

Cold damage around the margins of strawberry leaves from the hard freeze right after Christmas. It didn’t get cold enough to damage the crowns. Photo from Justin Ballew
This bloom was killed by cold weather. It’s difficult to see here, but there are already a few botrytis spores developing on the flower. If not sanitized, this could become a significant source of inoculum. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Cold hurt green winter strawberries more than ripe ones due to increased sugar in ripe ones. Still got some squash producing in high tunnels if covered inside tunnel with row covers. We’re bedding green fields to allow weeds to germinate so they can be killed using stale-bed culture.”

Field Update – 5/26/20

Statewide

Dr. Tony Keinath reports, “Powdery mildew was found late last week on watermelon at the Coastal REC, Charleston. All watermelon growers should look at the photo below to be sure they can identify powdery mildew in the early stages. The spots are pale yellow, and, unlike squash, may not have white powdery growth under the spot on the bottom of the leaf. See Powdery Mildew on Watermelon Land-Grant Press 1019 for spray recommendations (https://lgpress.clemson.edu/publication/powdery-mildew-on-watermelon/).”

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Light yellow spots on watermelon leaf from powdery mildew. Photo from Dr. Tony Keinath.

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “I saw a good bit of powdery mildew last week on all cucurbit crops. I have had several questions this spring about injury to watermelon. I think the strong winds, sand, and spraying damaged the crowns of melons. They are growing out of it now but have had some folks concerned. Bacterial wilt is showing up in tomato as temperatures climb and fruit is loading up in the crop. Keep up with scouting for insects and diseases. Overall things look great.”

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Crown injury on watermelon due to high winds and sandblasting. Photo from Zack Snipes.

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Conditions have been perfect for the development of powdery mildew on cucurbit crops. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Rob Last reports, “Watermelons generally look very good with great color and potential with early fruit set occurring.  Fusarium wilt is active at low levels in some places, as to be expected in areas of impaired drainage.  Also, I observed a little hail damage to watermelons and cantaloupe in Bamberg County.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “It’s been raining a lot in the Midlands, but we really needed some rain. I’ve had almost 6.5 inches at my house since last Monday (5/18). This has slowed down strawberry picking and we have a ton of water damaged berries. Botrytis is loving all the moisture. Most fields look like they will keep producing for a few more weeks,  just stay on top of fungicide programs. The moisture and warm temperatures have most other crops growing rapidly and looking good. Keep an eye out for disease.

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These strawberries sitting in water will be damaged and need to be removed from the field before botrytis begins to develop. Photo from Justin Ballew

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Tomatoes are loving the warm weather. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Anyone have an ark?  Many fields are flooded. Nutrients are washing away and strawberries are water-soaked.  Some strawberry farmers have stopped picking.  Water-logged soil causing crops to stop growing and we have to rely on airplanes to spray crops.  Weeds are enjoying the rain.”

Bruce McLean reports, “Last week was rainy in most locations, and this week looks like more of the same. Disease pressure is elevated due to excessive moisture. Seeing gummy stem blight showing up in cucumbers and bacterial spot in tomatoes. Thrips pressure had been high going into last week (especially on beans, peas, and cucumbers), and could still be high in the few locations that missed the heavy rains. But everywhere else, the heavy rains likely reduced thrips activity. Strawberries are finishing up. Heavy rains damaged most of the remaining red fruit. Blueberry harvest is starting to increase. Prior to rains, fruit was looking really good. The excess moisture did cause some fruit splitting, but no long term damage to the crop. Haven’t seen much thrips activity in muscadines yet, but now concerned with increased problems with calyptra release, a condition known as stuck cap. It’s a little early to tell, but could reduce yields.

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Thrips damage to southern peas. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “We are building the ark to send down to Tony in the Pee Dee!  Lots of flooded fields last week (and today) with many places seeing 4-6 inches of rain over 3 days. Strawberry growers halted picking and worked around the rains. Vegetable producers are replanting washed out crops and draining fields.  Peaches and apples continue to be on track for a good season. Localized hail damage is showing up on apples in Mountain Rest from one of the storms a few weeks ago.”

Field Update – 4/6/20

At this point, only a few cities (Columbia, Charleston, and Myrtle Beach) have issued shelter-in-place orders.  The Commissioner of Agriculture, Hugh Weathers, has drafted a Notice of Essential Food and Agriculture Employee form that farms in these areas may fill out for each employee certifying them as an essential employee.  They should keep this letter with them while commuting to and from work.  Commissioner Weathers also sent this letter to the law enforcement community in regards to his notice.

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “A beautiful week of weather for working outside this past week.  Our spring crops look great as well as our early summer planted crops. Tomatoes look great and have really jumped.  I found some cranberry fruit worm in highbush blueberries last week that all blueberry growers will want to keep an eye out for.  Local produce sales are in great demand right now with lots of growers finding new ways to sell to new clientele.  Strawberry season is in full swing with U-pick operations having trouble keeping up with demand.  I’ve seen lots of makeshift handwashing stations at U-Pick farms, which I applaud growers for.  Had a few calls about thrips in strawberry this past week so keep an eye out for damage.  In every strawberry field that I was in this past week, I saw hot spots of spider mites.  Scout your fields, the entire field, daily and treat the hot spots before you have to treat the entire field.  It will save you money on both treatment and potential yield loss.”

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Handwashing stations at U-Picks are protecting both growers and customers. This one was set up for around $70. Photo from Zack Snipes.

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Thrips damage on strawberry will leave the berry with a bronzed look and the outside of the berry will be hard resembling a plastic coating. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “The weather was a little cooler this past week than the week before.  We also had a little rain early in the week and dew several mornings. These were perfect conditions for Botrytis and anthracnose to develop in strawberries and both showed up in a number of places.  We have a lot of blooms and green fruit out there right now, so make sure to stay on a good spray schedule and rotate MOA’s.  Spider mite pressure remains high in some places. Strawberry yields have not picked up yet and growers are easily selling everything they pick. Brassicas are growing fast in this beautiful weather. Caterpillar pressure is still up requiring widespread sprays. Keep scouting.”

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Botrytis developing on a strawberry.  Weather conditions have been perfect for Botrytis and anthracnose recently. Photo from Justin Ballew.

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Strawberry yields have not picked up yet, but we have lots of blooms and green fruit coming on. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Peach trees continue to progress,  thinning of fruit is happening for some varieties now. Strawberry crop is beginning to pick up. Cooler night temperatures last week slowed ripening some. Vegetable crops continue to be planted including eggplant and peppers.”

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Broccoli plants growing well in Saluda County. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Full speed planting processing vegetables.  Pickles, green beans, Butterbeans, peas, peppers, tomatoes are being planted.  Having trouble getting all the strawberries picked.  2nd Butterbean planting going in. 3rd sweet corn planting going in.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “With beautiful skies and warm weather this past week, our upstate market gardeners are beginning to put things in the ground. While a little early for some, others are hedging their bets with multiple plantings over the next few weeks. Apples and peaches are continuing to progress with most apple varieties now in or near full bloom.”

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Tomato transplants for sale at a local garden supplier. Photo from Kerrie Roach.