Weekly Field Update – 1/25/21

Don’t forget to check out the Upcoming Events page for all the meetings coming up over the next couple months. The next one is this Wednesday evening (1/27/21) from 6 to 8:30 and will be about tomato and pepper production. We hope to see you there!

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “Strawberry crops in the area are looking good with good crown development. We are seeing open flowers and some fruit set based on warmer conditions. These crops are cause for some concern as we are likely to see damage from forecast cold snaps. There is evidence of botrytis (gray mold) in crops on cold damaged flowers and fruit. Sanitation can really help to mitigate the spread of the disease. Spider mites remain active and in places are requiring treatment. Remember to avoid pyrethroids for mite control as these can flare mite populations.”

Zack Snipes reports, “The three components of the disease triangle are a conducive environment, the host plant present, and a virulent pathogen.  With that being said; It has been pretty wet as of late, we have warmer weather coming this week, and I have seen pathogens in our fields.  I fully expect some diseases to really take hold and start to spread this week.  For strawberries, make sure to clean dead tissue (leaves, blooms, fruit, etc) and for other crops removal of dead tissue and a preventative fungicide application (conventional or organic) can really help you get ahead of the fight against diseases.  Also, my pet peeve…get your deer fences up!!!! This is the time of year that deer run out of food (and corn piles) and will meander into your strawberries and eat thousands of dollars’ worth of profits.”

The two-tiered fencing system, like the one shown in this trail cam photo, will keep curious deer out of your fields. Deer Fencing.  Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “This past week was a little warmer and more sunny, but not by much. Crops are still growing slowly as a result. I’m seeing a lot of deer damage in strawberry fields that boarder the woods. Nothing reduces yield potential in strawberries faster than deer. Once they start nibbling leaves off, those plants will always be behind and they’ll never yield the same as a healthy, undamaged plant. Keep in mind that wildlife in the field is also a significant food safety risk. Once we get into bloom, this will become a major concern. Fencing is the most effective means of keeping deer out of the field. Fencing doesn’t have to be expensive or permanent. Check out this publication.”

Look at all those stems where leaves used to be. The deer have set these plants way back and they will never catch up. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “New plantings of peach trees are going in along the Ridge. A weather station went up in Johnston at one of our variety trials this past fall and we are watching to see chilling hours accumulated. Currently we are at 714 chill hours and 43 chill portions looking at temperatures between 32 and 45 degrees. The upstate at the Musser location is sitting at 773 chill hours and 46 chill portions. It’s looking like we will have no problem meeting all of our chilling requirements for the season.”

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “I keep finding more strawberry fields with spidermites.  Some fields are damaged or devastated by deer.  If you ever let deer get a taste of strawberry plants it is very difficult or almost impossible to stop them.”

Upstate

Andy Rollins reports, “Strawberry plants are doing well in the upstate of SC. Some plants are smaller than others mainly due to planting time. Growers need to look for uneven growth with in a field which can be indication of root rot. Also, some growers are spraying Rovral because of early dead blooms producing excessively high amounts grey mold. Some are using it with Captan others with Thiram. Thiram would give some deer deterrence. Growers need to be very careful with covers this time of year. They can force even more unwanted early blooms. Remember 18 degrees hurts crown 30 degrees kill blooms. So we are still in the protect plant time, not the protect bloom time. There are several farms planting peach trees now and still others finishing ground preparations. We also have a new pecan farm whose trees I was able to inspect and help with last minute details before planting this week. I hope and pray all of you stay safe amid the Covid19 pressure around us. The loss of a farming friend and leader of men, Mr. Ervin Lineberger will be greatly missed.”

Strawberries are looking good in the Upstate. Photo from Andy Rollins.
Strawberries are looking good in the upstate. Photo from Andy Rollins.