Weekly Field Update – 8/31/20

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “We had between 4-6 inches of rain last week with daily thunderstorms.  Growers are working the fields getting ready for the fall crops to go in.  If it happens to rain on Wednesday night, then you should tune in to our Strawberry 101 class from 6-8PM.  We will be discussing economics, seasonal timeline, varieties and common mistakes, and fertility.  This is an excellent opportunity to learn about growing strawberries.  You must register ahead of time to participate.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “After some rain early in the week, the weather turned dry and the temperatures and humidity reminded us that summer isn’t over yet. Fall crops are continuing to progress well, though we are continuing to see a fair amount of disease like anthracnose, downy mildew, and bacterial spot due to the recent wet conditions. Caterpillar populations are climbing on fall brassicas as well. In scouting a field trial, I observed diamondback moths, cabbage loopers, and armyworms. Keep a close eye out and be sure to rotate chemistries when you start spraying.”

Anthracnose spots on a cantaloupe leaf. Photo from Justin Ballew.
Cabbage looper on a collard leaf. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Peach season has wrapped up in the Ridge and post- harvest fertilizer applications are being applied. Fall vegetable crops are looking good as we received some decent rain fall over the past week. Hot temperatures have had some effect on lower seed germination of some brassicas.”

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Harvest time is finally upon us. Sunshine and warm temperatures is doing the trick for giving growers that final push for ripening the muscadine crop. Crop is looking good, but some bitter rot and ripe rot is starting to show. Brix for Carlos and Noble is averaging around 13.5%. Doreen is still a little ways from being ready to harvest, but it won’t be long.”

Grape harvester picking muscadines. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “So wet in areas it is hard to spray peas for curculio some are having to use airplanes.  Harvesting sweet potatoes for processing and yield is good.  Planting greens for processing.  Harvesting pickles but stopped planting this week.  Still harvesting processing peppers but harvesters are getting real tired.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Heavy rains, humidity and continued high temperatures over the last week have continued an increased trend in disease incidence across the board in both vegetables and fruits. Growers need to be proactive to stay ahead of diseases (and insects) by scouting often and well. We are finishing out the peach season with late varieties like ‘Big Red’. Apples are gaining steam and early varieties are looking and tasting great. Overall the production seems to be on target for a significant increase over last season.”

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.

Field Update – 5/18/20

Statewide

Dr. Tony Keinath reports, “With the cooler-than-normal spring weather, two cool-season pathogens also may be active longer than normal. Downy mildew on brassicas, especially kale and collard, mainly affects the lower leaves. Sometimes it will move up onto the larger leaves in the middle of the plant. With a hand lens, you can see white mildew growth in lesions on the bottom of the leaves. In my spring 2020 trial, Presidio, potassium phosphite, and Zampro rotated with potassium phosphite worked well. Organic growers can use Badge X2 copper, which also performed well.

Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. niveum, the soilborne fungus that attacks watermelon, infects roots when soil temperatures are below 82F. At Coastal REC, I am still seeing new plants showing wilt symptoms. Remember that all control measures, and I want to stress all of them, must be applied before or at transplanting. There is nothing that can be done at this stage of crop growth. It is too late to apply fungicides, which will be a waste of money.”

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Tiny dark flecks of downy mildew on the bottom of ‘Blue Dwarf’ kale. Photo from Dr. Tony Keinath.

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Sporulation of downy mildew on the underside of ‘Tiger’ collard. Photo from Dr. Tony Keinath.

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Wilting and yellowing of lower leaves due to Fusarium wilt on watermelon 6 weeks after transplanting. Photo from Dr. Tony Keinath.

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “Things are coming along in the Lowcountry.  It has been very windy and I’ve had several farmers tell me that crops are using more water now because of the wind than if it were hot and humid.  Squash, zucchini, cukes, potatoes, and greens are coming off in good volume right now. Tomatoes are just a few weeks away and are in the sizing up stages right now. I have not seen any major pests or diseases as of late.  The conditions are ripe for the development of Powdery Mildew so be on the lookout when scouting watermelon, squash, brassica, and tomato.”

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Tomatoes are looking good and are just a few short weeks away. Photo from Zack Snipes.

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Powdery mildew on the shaded side of a collard leaf. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “It’s dry in the midlands. It’s been great because we haven’t seen much disease lately (especially on strawberries), but we need some rain. The forecast looks like we may get some this week. Strawberries are still yielding fairly well, though we’re starting to see fewer blooms. Fruit size is getting smaller, but taste has still been great. The first few plantings of sweet corn are tasseling now. Brassicas are still growing well, though there is some black rot out there.  Tomatoes, peppers, and cucurbits have been growing fast the last few days also.”

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The earliest plantings of sweet corn are tasseling. Photo from Justin Ballew.

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Black rot symptoms on the margins of cabbage leaves. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Peach season is here! Picking several early varieties now and running packing lines. The crop looks good for this season. Bacteriosis started to show up on leaves and fruit in fields. Still picking strawberries. Summer crops like bell pepper and squash are progressing nicely.”

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Phomopsis or twig blight in a peach orchard. Lesions on twigs cause dieback, gumosis and curling at tips. Remove damaged wood and burn. Photo from Sarah Scott.

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Twig dieback from Phomopsis twig blight. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Lalo Toledo reports, “Cool temperatures have slowed down the growth of many vegetables, but most vegetable plants are looking great. Please be aware of possible diseases coming in this week. Wet and hot conditions will be conducive for pests and diseases. Please spray accordingly and scout every two days, if possible.”

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Grasshopper damage on eggplant. Photo from Lalo Toledo.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Hail has destroyed at least 10 A squash, 200 A peaches, 30 A strawberries, 8 A blackberries, many acres of field corn, tobacco, rye, and wheat.  Damaged another 35 A strawberries, 300 A peaches.  Thank goodness that the wind has let up for a while and temperatures have risen on tomatoes, peppers, peas, beans, and sweet potatoes.  Thrips have been awful and imidacloprid is only partially controlling them. If labeled use dimethoate, acephate, etc.   More herbicide damage than usual this year because of cool temperatures and wind, even on labeled crops and drift to non-labeled crops has been awful.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “With a week of good growing conditions, things are looking great in the Upstate for fruit & vegetable producers. In higher elevations, there were some losses of young tender plants during isolated frost events early last week. With rains expected most of this coming week, things should start to really push for our market vegetable growers. Peaches and apples are on track for a good season.

Field Update – 5/11/20

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “We have had some weird weather for May touching 90 one day to in the 40s at night.  Despite the fluctuating temperatures, crops like squash, zucchini, snap beans, and cukes are all coming in and looking pretty good. Melons and tomatoes are looking ok but cooler temperatures and persistent winds with sandblasting is common this spring.  Those wind-stressed and sandblasted plants will be more susceptible to disease so make sure to follow fungicide programs closely.

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Provider green beans are loaded up. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Last week started out quite warm, which had crops developing quickly. Spring planted brassicas grew fast and Squash seedlings really jumped out of the ground. Diamondback moth caterpillar populations are still high in places and we’re starting to see cabbage loopers as well. Strawberry growers are still reporting good sales. Thankfully, it’s cooled down again (at least for a few days) and that will help strawberry plants develop more blooms before it warms back up. As the weather becomes warm and dry this week, scout closely for spider mites.”

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Great looking broccoli head ready to be harvested. Heads developed very quickly in the warm weather last week. Photo from Justin Ballew.

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Cabbage loopers are showing up in brassicas. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “We are picking early variety peaches along the Ridge. Strawberries are still being harvested in the area as cooler nighttime temperatures have slowed ripening. Imported cabbageworm and diamondback moth caterpillars can be found in slightly higher numbers on broccoli and cabbage plants. Windy weather has made spraying in the fields and orchards challenging.

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Bacterial canker on a peach tree. Lesions with distinct lines between healthy and diseased wood found under bark on declining trees. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Temperatures in the Upstate were in the mid to low 30’s this weekend causing many growers to take precautions. Strawberry growers who had put their row covers away for the season, brought them back out. At this point, the low temperatures do not appear to have caused much damage. The weather is projected to even out this week, and nighttime temperatures are coming up. We are hoping for a great week of growing!

Field Update – 4/20/20

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “We had severe storms roll through the Lowcountry at the beginning of last week.  Fortunately, we had very little damage to most of our crops.  We had some damage to older squash and zucchini and some damage to untied tomatoes.  For the most part, we escaped with little to moderate damage and should still make some good crops. Strawberries are coming in strong but it seems like this could be our last push of the season.  I do not see many blooms coming on and our overall plant size and number of crowns per plant seem low for this time of year.

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Ants and mole crickets have become more of a problem for produce growers in the past few years. Photo from Zack Snipes.

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Burn on leaf margins caused by overapplication of boron. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We didn’t see any damage from the storms last Monday morning other than some water damaged strawberries. We’re sure to have more damaged berries once the rain clears out today. Be sure to carry damaged and rotting berries out of the fields so they won’t become a source of inoculum for Botrytis and anthracnose. Growers selling locally are still seeing good demand for their produce. To try to keep everyone safe, some strawberry growers are opting to sell only pre-pick berries. Brassicas are growing rapidly and looking great, though diamondback moth caterpillar pressure has become pretty high. Be sure to rotate modes of action when selecting DBM insecticides. Everything else (tomatoes, peppers, sweet corn, squash) is growing well also.

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Water damaged strawberries. Photo from Justin Ballew.

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The first plantings of tomatoes are growing really well.  Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Peach trees continue to be thinned. This week we will likely begin to see scale crawlers present and should take action with a spray of Esteem. Bacterial canker has been noted across the state this year as seasonal conditions warranted a good year for inoculation.  Peach fruit is progressing nicely with some of the earliest varieties potentially beginning to ripe in just a few weeks.”

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Peaches that have been thinned with fruit distanced about 6 inches apart. Photo from Sarah Scott.

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Early variety peach progressing nicely in Edgefield County. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Planting of vegetables is wide open, right now. Cucurbits (cucumbers, squash, melons), beans and peas, sweet corn, tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers are all going in. Greens are looking good. Potatoes are coming along nicely, despite having to be planted late. Starting to see Colorado potato beetles in potatoes. Frequent scouting and timely insecticide applications are key to their control. Strawberries yields are really starting to pick up. A lot of nice-sized, sweet strawberries are available now. Blueberry fields are starting to get that tinge of blue on the earliest berries. We should start seeing some fruit being harvested in the next few days.

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Colorado potato beetle on a potato leaf. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “It was getting dry, thank goodness for the rain.  Most of our butterbeans and peas are grown with irrigation.  Most of our first crop cucumbers are starting to hit the rapid growth stage – get out and sharpen the plows.  Greens are loving this weather.  Watch out for yellow margined beetle- you will most likely see the brown ugly small grubs – they like sandier soils.

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “With beautiful skies over the last week since the outbreak of tornadoes across the state, growers have been able to get back into the fields. Last night and this morning’s heavy rains caused some minor runoff and ponding, but nothing we haven’t seen before. A few scattered nights/mornings with cold temperatures do not seem to have caused any significant damage to the peach or apple crops. The biggest news in the Upstate has been cleanup… cleanup of the Seneca area and further up near Pumpkintown. So far, there has been a very limited reported effect from the tornados on the fruit & vegetable growers. We’ve had many livestock producers with downed fences and shelter roof damages, but nothing too severe. Residential areas were the hardest hit, and the community has really shown out in its response.

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EF3 tornado damage from Seneca, SC. Photo from Kerrie Roach.

Andy Rollins reports, “This is damage seen on multiple farms is believed to have been caused by self-inflicted miticide application with a surfactant, or possibly damaged from the sun. What allowed us to learn this is that almost all of the damage is located on the top side of the fruit but when flipped over the portion of the shaded berries remained undamaged.  Please be careful with all fungicide/pesticide applications and make sure you are following all of them.  If the label doesn’t call for a surfactant to be used…..please do NOT use one.

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Damage possibly from using a surfactant with a miticide or from the sun. Photo from Andy Rollins.

Field Update – 3/16/20

COVID-19 has become a concern for fruit and vegetable growers, especially those expecting to open U-Pick operations in the coming weeks.  It is unknown at this time how the virus, quarantines, and closures will affect produce sales.  Updates will be shared on the SC Grower each week in regards to this issue.  In the meantime, please take the necessary precautions to protect yourselves, your workers, and customers.

Coastal

Dr. Matt Cutulle reports, “I received a couple samples of the aquatic weed Eurasian Watermilfoil this month from irrigation and other water-filled ditches. This invasive weed has been moving South and can block up waterways. Sonar herbicide is effective against this weed. Draining the ditches and allowing the weed to dry out can reduce the viability of this weed as well.”

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Eurasian watermilfoil foliage. Photo from Dr. Matt Cutulle.

Zack Snipes reports, “Things are warming up and drying out in the Lowcountry.  Everyone is very busy preparing land and planting.  Tomato planting will continue this week.”

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Last week was mostly warm and sunny and there’s been lots of pine pollen in the air.  Believe it or not, we have some places that are dry and are being irrigated.  We have some ripe strawberries around that are ready to pick and I have been pleasantly surprised with the taste so far.  It won’t be long before U-Pick operations are open.  The dry weather has allowed spider mite populations to pick up and lots of folks have put out miticides.  Be sure to scout regularly and stay on top of sanitation.”

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Sandy soils in the midlands have dried out and these young collards have started to wilt.  Photo from Justin Ballew.

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Strawberry harvest will begin soon in the midlands.  Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Most peach trees in the middle part of the state are well into bloom if not beyond. A break in the rain has given growers a chance to get into the field and spray for blossom blight as well as begin herbicide sprays in some orchards. There appears to be very little damage from previous cold nighttime temperatures but we will still have to wait to get the full scope until fruit development begins. Vegetable plastic has gone in later than usual due to muddy, wet field conditions. Spring brassicas are being planted and potatoes are still going in as well.

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Peach trees near full bloom.  Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Hurrying to get greens planted before the rain.  Most sweet potato beds are in.  Picking strawberries, but botrytis is bad because of all the rain and cloudy weather.  Some are looking to start planting butterbeans soon to get ahead of the summer heat.  Soil temperatures are good but, we never know about late frosts.  It looks like we have some thinning of flowers/fruit on peaches with the cold temperatures, however, right now we still have a good crop.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “We are starting to see some beautiful peach blooms here in the Upstate. The ‘Belle of Georgia’ blooms are at about 80% in Long Creek as of Thursday. Lots of honeybees were out doing their work.”

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Honeybee foraging peach blooms. Photo from Kerrie Roach.

Field Update 2/24/20

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “As probably guessed the topic of the day is the 2 nights of sub 32F temperatures.  Most folks were able to cover their strawberries and hopefully, the row covers did their jobs.  I know in some places temperatures lower than 25F were seen.  The blueberry crop took the biggest blow.  Many of our rabbiteye types were ahead of schedule with the warm weather and were almost in full bloom or close to it when the cold nights came in.  I have seen several pictures from several farms that have a good bit of damage.  It is important to get fungicides out sometime this week as we have the perfect storm for a disease outbreak (warmer temperatures, wet weather, dead plant tissue, disease inoculum).  Recently planted brassicas are showing some damage but should grow out of it.  Only time will tell the extent of the cold damage.

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Strawberries are in their most vulnerable state when they are in full bloom as seen here. Photo from Zack Snipes.

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Small green fruit are a little more tolerant of cold temperatures although this fruit has some freeze damage and will decay if left on the plant.  Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We had plenty of rain last week and two cold nights this weekend.  It got to 28 Saturday morning and 29 Sunday morning at my house.  Strawberries were all covered, so they were protected, but now we’re getting to where we need to get the row covers off to make a fungicide application.  The rain and the threat of near-freezing temperatures this week is holding us back from getting that done.  Bees won’t able to get to the flowers for pollination either until we get the row covers off.  As soon as we’re able, we need to remove dead flowers, leaves, and fruit from the plants also.

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Water pooling in a collard field during the rain Thursday (2/20).  Photo from Justin Ballew.

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Strawberries split open to show cold damage.  The strawberry on the bottom is healthy and the two on top have varying degrees of discoloration and necrosis.  If not removed from the field, these two damaged berries will become a source of botrytis inoculum. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Wet weather is still prevalent and temperatures have dipped below freezing a couple of nights this past week. Warm weather earlier in the month began to push peach trees into a bit of an early bloom so we are watching for cold injury now. It is still too early to tell if the weather will affect the crop.

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The left photo shows a brown pistil, most likely damaged by below freezing temperatures while the bloom in the right photo had a pistil that is still green and probably undamaged. Photo from Sarah Scott

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Workers use flail mowers to grind up smaller pieces of pruned limbs in row middles throughout peach orchards. Breaking down the material is helpful in nutrient recycling as well as speeding decomposition to reduce spore production from fungal pathogens.  Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Rain won’t stop for us to get greens/cabbage/collards planted.  Transplants are having to be held back as much as possible so they won’t get too leggy.  Some growers got their sweet potato beds planted in real sandy fields.  Most strawberry growers have started covering to save fruit.  Remember that covering encourages spider mites and fruit rots.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “After a couple weeks with cooler temperatures, chill hours for the Upstate fruits crops (apples & peaches) are looking good. The dry weekend was too good to be true as we are getting more rain today. The forecast calls for dry weather the rest of this week. Hopefully, we can start getting into fields for prep work and early plantings for market growers.

Field Update – 2/17/20

Statewide

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

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Crabgrass seedlings. Photo from Virginia Tech

 

Coastal

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

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

Midlands

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

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

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

Pee Dee

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

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

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

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Hardwood blueberry cutting. Photo from Bruce McLean.

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

Field Update – 1/21/20

Remember to keep an eye on the “Upcoming Events” tab for new meeting and workshop announcements from around the state.

Statewide

Dr. Tony Keinath with more on white mold. “Growers who grow sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima, syn. Alyssum maritimum) as a nectar source for beneficial insects should be aware that sweet alyssum is susceptible to white mold. Diseased alyssum could increase the level of the pathogen in soil if the white mold fungus forms sclerotia on diseased plants. Growers who have alyssum in or along their fields in winter or early spring should check for symptoms of white mold. Symptoms include collapse of part or all of the plant and yellowing or blackening of tissue.”

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Sweet alysum is increasingly being grown in or around vegetable fields as a nectar source for beneficial insects, but is also susceptible to Sclerotinia white mold.

Coastal 

Zack Snipes reports, “The cold weather (at least a few days of it) has showed up.  This cold weather might slow our strawberries down which wouldn’t be a bad thing.  I have seen ripe berries on some farms.  The question I keep getting is should we start fertilizing to push our berries and cover them.  Most farms I have been on do not have a plant that is large enough to support bearing fruit.  Most farms have 3-4 crowns right now per plant and I would personally like to see that 4-5 before we really start pushing them.  Keep in mind that if we begin to fertilize and cover this time of year we will be picking in about 35 days.  Here are a few questions you might want to ask yourself. Do you plan on opening the last week in February? Do you plan on covering each night the temperature dips into the low 30’s?  Are you ready to apply protective fungicide sprays starting now? Another question I have gotten recently is when to cover and when to not cover.  The chart taken from Strawberry Plasticulture: A Grower’s Guide shows the critical temperatures for each of the bloom and fruiting stages.”

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Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Last week was fairly mild, but it turned cold over the weekend. Lows have been in the upper 20’s the last couple of mornings.  We’ve seen a lot of blooms developing on strawberries over the last two weeks and this cold is going to take them out.  I’ve been getting a lot of questions about covering, but it’s still too early to start protecting blooms.  Letting them die right now is the best thing to do and it won’t hurt yields.  More blooms will develop when the weather begins to warm up. Just be sure to sanitize the plants well in the early spring to remove all the dead blooms that can become inoculum for Botrytis.

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Lots of blooms developed over the last two weeks, but will die in the cold this week. Photo from Justin Ballew

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “The weather has returned to a more seasonal pattern… for at least a little while. Collards and cabbage are still looking very good (for the most part). Sclerotinia is being found (localized) in fields – effecting cabbage more than other brassica crops. Strawberries are looking good. Other than some early flowering (due to the recent heat), no problems are being seen in the field. Muscadines are currently being pruned, as well as blueberries and blackberries. The recent warm weather has begun to push some early bud break and flowering on some blueberries, on both highbush and rabbiteyes. Hopefully, the return of colder temps will delay any further growth until a little later into the season… because it is still a bit early for them to wake up.

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Sclerotinia showing up in some brassica fields. Photo from Bruce McLean.

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Collards are still looking good in the upper Pee Dee. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “Greens including collards are damaged severely by cold. Demand for greens has dropped drastically but some small growers have covered to maintain supply. Most strawberry growers are not protecting from cold and allowing cold to kill flowers and fruit.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports,  “With almost 16.8 inches of rain recorded for January so far at the Oconee Airport, the Upstate is soggy to say the least. Cold temperatures have finally arrived, and pruning has commenced in full force for tree fruit growers. Apples are just about finished with most growers waiting a few more weeks to start any peach pruning. We are finally significantly adding to chilling hours.”

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Before (left) and after (right) pruning of semi-dwarf variety apple.

Field Update – 1/13/20

Spring fruit and vegetable meetings are being announced daily, so keep an eye on the “Upcoming Events” tab over the next several weeks.

Coastal Region

Dr. Matt Cutulle reports, “I have been seeing a lot of Henbit in the coastal area this year (A big chunk of it in Dr. Brian Ward’s research fields). Don’t be deceived by the pretty flowers. We don’t really have any options for selectively controlling the weed POST in most vegetable crops. Mowing before viable seed head formation is a good way to reduce the weed seed bank deposit of this problematic winter annual. More description of the weed can be found at (https://www.clemson.edu/cafls/research/weeds/weed-id-bio/broadleaf-weeds-parent/broadleaf-pages/henbit.html)”

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Henbit flowers. Photo from Dr. Matt Cutulle.

Dr. Tony Keinath reports,”White mold (Sclerotinia sclerotiorum) is active in the Charleston area. The two nights of freezing temperatures December 18-19 likely stimulated sclerotia to germinate and produce ascospores. Warm, overcast weather with mist and light rain is ideal for spread and germination of the airborne ascospores. Weather conditions likely will remain favorable for white mold over the next 3 months. Growers will need to rotate conventional white mold fungicides due to limits on the number of applications that can be made per crop.

For organic crops, Sonata at 8 pints per acre may offer some protection. See pages 185 and 222 in the 2020 Vegetable Crop Handbook for Southeastern United States.”

Zack Snipes reports, “Warm and muggy is the only way to describe the past week.  I was out in a blueberry patch and noticed some low chill hour varieties already blooming.  We have gotten very few chill hours to date in Charleston.  Chill hours are the number of hours below 45F and are required for proper fruiting of perennial fruits.  For a  normal year in Charleston we should get anywhere from 400-600 chill hours.  I have also seen strawberries pushing out some blooms.  Growers should not worry as that is normal for this time of year.  I think it is still too early to starting pushing strawberries for fruiting.  Remember that it takes 35 or so days to go from bloom to picking a strawberry.  It we let our plants grow and develop more crowns right now (rather than fruit), then we will have greater production this spring.”

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Low chill hour blueberries are already showing some blooms. Photo from Zack Snipes.

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Strawberries starting to push out a few blooms. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “It was unseasonably warm this past week and we had a couple significant rain events over the weekend. I’ve seen a few daffodils and forsynthia blooming already.  Strawberries are growing a little faster right now and that’s good new for fields that are a little behind.  The weather conditions we have right now are very conducive to Phytophthora development, so now would be a good time for a Ridomil application through the drip, especially in fields with a history of Phytophthora. Winter weeds are really exploding now.  Make sure to pull any weeds coming up in the plant holes so they aren’t competing with the strawberries. We’re still harvesting brassicas and they look good other than a little Sclerotinia here and there.”

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A likely Pytophthora infection in a strawberry crown.  The tip of the crown near the roots has turned reddish/brown. Photo from Justin Ballew.

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Cabbage in the midlands is looking nice. Photo from Justin Ballew

Sarah Scott reports, “Wet and overly warm temperatures have set in along the Ridge over the past week. 2.5 inches of rain have fallen but with soil already wet it is making for difficult working conditions. Fields are still being prepped for peach tree planting and pruning should begin this week. With temperatures reaching into the 70s there is a concern that higher chill varieties of peaches may not get adequate chilling requirements to produce optimum yields but we will have to wait and see what the weather continues to do. Cabbage, collards, and kale are still being harvested along with a few other late winter crops. Strawberries are putting on a lot of growth with the warm temperatures. Some spider mites in the field but very minimal observations.”

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Strawberries are growing fast in this warm weather. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Lalo Toledo reports, “Spider mite populations are begging to increase in our area. Most brassica producers are selling out. Remember to disk in remaining plant material as soon as possible, this reduces the chance of disease in your following crop year. Sclerotinia white mold has been very prevalent in our area.  Remember to rotate for a minimum of three years if disease emerges. Weather has not allowed for spring bedding to begin.”

Pee Dee Region

Tony Melton reports, “Last week, folks hurried before rain to get land bedded for greens to be planted the first of February.  This will allow weeds to emerge so they can be killed before planting in stale-bed-culture.  Strawberries are loving this warm weather.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “We have some growers who are finished pruning apples and peaches, some who have just started, and others who haven’t touched their orchards yet. We will see who fairs the best… I have concerns with what I would consider to be early pruning, combined with continued warm temperatures creating a perfect storm for when cold temperatures finally arrive. Heavy rains have plagued the area, with more than 13 inches recorded at the Oconee airport in January thus far.”

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Apple trees after pruning. Photo from Kerrie Roach.