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!

“Murder Hornets” in SC?

From Clemson Apiculture Specialist Ben Powell.

The story of the introduction of the Asian Giant Hornet (AGH) into North America has been circulating for at least six months by various news sources, but the use of the term “murder hornet” in the NY Times article this past weekend created a viral sensation that is now being run by local news media statewide.

The term “murder hornet” was coined to describe the carnage created when they attack honey bee colonies. The appropriate name is the Asian giant hornet (AGH), Vespa mandarinia.  The AGH was first detected in September of 2019 on Vancouver Island near Nanaimo, Canada.  In December, a dead specimen was found in Blaine, Washington on the Canadian border, and credible attacks on honey bee hives were recorded. At present, AGHs have never been found in South Carolina or the eastern US, and experts say there is no cause for concern in SC.

AGHs are the largest hornet in the world. Though they are frequently confused with European hornets (Vespa crabro), AGHs are nearly twice their size. AGH queens are at least 5 cm (2 inches) long and workers are 3.5 to 4 cm, while the European hornet queens are 3 to 3.5 cm long and workers are 1.8 to 2.5 cm. Other distinguishing features include:

  1. Pronounced genae (cheeks, the region of the head between the frontal suture and the back of the head)
  2. Deeply incised clypeus (facial plate above the upper lip)
  3. Mesonotum (back between front wings) is entirely dark
    • European hornet has pair of longitudinal yellow patches on mesonotum
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Comparison of distinguishing features of Asian giant hornets (left) versus the European hornet (right). Image credit: Allan Smith-Pardo, Invasive Hornets, USDA APHIS PPQ, Bugwood.org 
Edited by Ben Powell, Clemson University

The AGH is native to eastern Asia, ranging from India through China to Korea and Japan. Genetic analysis of recovered specimens suggests North American populations may have multiple origins (one from Japan and another from Korea), suggesting two separate introductions.

Adult hornets feed on sweet substances and have a high affinity for honey bee colonies, as they contain both sweet fluids for adult workers and larval insects which they feed to their young. AGHs are about five times larger than a honey bee and easily overcome their defenses. Honey bees might be able to fend off a single hornet by balling around it, but when multiple AGHs attack, they decapitate the defending honey bee workers, leaving behind bee carcasses at the hive entrance and bottom board. After destroying the workers, the hornets then collect the larvae. This destruction of the colony can occur in just a few hours.

AGHs are no more harmful to people than wasps like European hornets, bald-faced hornets, yellow jackets, or paper wasps.  They are no more defensive than other wasps and stings tend to produce similar reactions, including localized pain and swelling with some isolated tissue necrosis. Deaths associated with AGH have mostly been people suffering from anaphylaxis or other underlying health issues.

For more information, see the following resources:

Field Update – 5/4/20

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “We have had a very wet spring with some places receiving over 13 inches of rain this month.  Crops look surprisingly good considering the excess rain and cooler nights.  I have seen an increase in worm activity on brassicas, particularly the cabbage looper.  With all the rain, I have seen some hot spots of bacterial spot in tomato.  If you scout from your truck or tractor, you will not find bacterial spot until much later in the growing season.  The disease starts on the bottom leaves of your tomatoes and works its way up throughout the season.  Preventative products such as copper, mancozeb, and plant activator products are the only control measures we have. Get out and scout and look very closely, as the disease is very difficult to see in the beginning stages.”

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Cabbage looper on a cabbage leaf. Photo from Zack Snipes.

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Bacterial spot starts on the bottom leaves and works its way up the plant throughout the season. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “The weather was really nice this past week. We got about an inch of rain early Thursday morning and it has been breezy since, so all the water dried up fast.  The weather conditions have been perfect for grey mold in strawberries and it is showing up in areas where folks are falling behind in sanitation. It looks like there are more blooms on the plants this week, but with temperatures in the 80’s for a few days, that may slow down some.  Thrips are still an issue in places and treatments are going out, so keep scouting. If you need to make an application for thrips, do it early in the morning or late in the day to avoid spraying foraging pollinators. Keep looking for spider mites as well.”

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Rotting berries covered in Botrytis spores can go unnoticed in between plants.  Every time the wind blows, spores from these berries will be dispersed to other areas of the field. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Peaches are progressing nicely in the Ridge area. Growers started harvesting early varieties. Some issues of bacterial canker are still becoming more noticeable in later varieties. The first sprays for scale crawlers have been applied and growers are continuing weed and orchard management sprays. Still picking strawberries. Crops for summer harvest are being planted still such as tomatoes and cucurbits. We’ve had some nice rainfall over the past week to keep soil moisture up but we have had high winds that have caused some limb breakage in orchards and stress on young vegetable transplants in the field.”

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Russetting on peach, possibly from earlier thrips damage. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Winds are awful and damaging crops (sandblasting, wringing off plants, leaving spots on leaves and stems, causing wounds where disease like damping off can start and enter plants), stunting plants, and causing early flowering in tomatoes and peppers.  Insects are awful, including grasshopper, thrips, diamondback moth, yellow-margined beetle, and false cinch bugs.  Rains and irrigation to keep down sand blowing are causing leaching of nitrogen. In combination with decreased plant growth due to wind, we are adding extra nitrogen to get the plant size needed to get yields.  Hopefully, we can keep the processing tomatoes and peppers in the growth stage a little longer before the fruiting stage really kicks-in and further reduces plant growth.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “While some have been hesitant, many Upstate Farmers Markets opened for the season this past weekend. Utilizing revised set-ups, handwashing stations, and promoting social distancing people still came out to support growers. Strawberries in Pickens and Anderson Counties are producing well and growers are selling out quickly. Weather conditions have been great for growing the last few weeks, and many of our market growers will be starting to move into the production stage over the next few weeks.”

 

Field Update – 4/27/20

Late last week, the Clemson Agribusiness team sent out some updated information on the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Emergency Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL).  Be sure to take a look at that info here.

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “We had a few storms last week that brought heavy rains to the Lowcountry totaling 5 inches in some places.  The good news is that wind and sunny days have followed those storms which is helping to dry things out.  Highbush blueberries are in mid-harvest right now and rabbiteye varieties are sizing up and may be somewhat early this year. Our strawberry crop has been disappointing this year in terms of yield.  I am seeing a ton of thrips damage in strawberry.  The threshold used for thrips is 10 per blossom.  More thrips information from NC State.  Tomato and watermelon growers need to be scouting for thrips, as problems will develop later on from infestations we are having now.  I found the first cucumber beetles (striped and spotted) on crops this spring.  We had terrible infestations last year on cucumbers and melons that made fruit unmarketable.  If you find these on your farm you need to develop a plan to manage them (first generation) right now.”

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Severe Thrips damage causes unmarketable fruit. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We had really nice weather last week and crops are growing very well. Strawberry harvest volumes are still good, but it appears bloom is slowing down in some fields.  Thrips pressure has been high recently and we’re seeing damage on some berries as a result.  If thrips are present, they can be found in the flowers or under the cap leaves of developing berries. If you’re seeing lots of damage, an application of Radiant may be needed. Brassicas are growing quickly right now. We’re still seeing high pressure of diamondback moth caterpillars.  Be sure to rotate insecticide MOA’s when treating for DBM.  If you suspect a population of DBM has developed resistance to one or more insecticides, let us know and we can arrange to test that population.”

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Thrips damage is characterized by a bronze color and cracks in the skin of the berry. Photo from Justin Ballew

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A young broccoli head, about an inch and a half wide, beginning to form. Photo from Justin Ballew

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Strawberries, strawberries! Strawberries are coming off very well, right now. Quality is for-the-most-part very good, although last week’s showers did cause some water damaged fruit in some locations. Blueberry harvest should begin later this week. Volumes will be very light for the first week or so but should pick up soon. Muscadines are looking good, so far. Carlos variety is just beginning to bloom. Vegetables are still being planted heavily. Potatoes and greens are looking very good.”

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Pandorus Sphinx Moth hanging out in the muscadine vineyard at Pee Dee REC. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “Late peach varieties have a short crop, early ones are ok.  Strawberry glut is over now producing a normal crop of smaller fruit.  Early large crop with big fruit was a large strain on the plants.  Thank goodness for these cool temperatures allowing flowers to set which should give us a good set into June.  Beans, cucumbers, and peas are slow due to these cool temperatures and wind.  Some having damping-off problems and applying Quadris or potassium phosphide now.  Mowing tops of sweet potatoes in the beds now and will be planting in a week or so.  Yellow margined beetle on brassicas getting worse in parts of the Pee Dee – look for the ugly small larvae eating leaves – easy to see.”

Upstate

Andy Rollins reports, “We are finding San Jose scale on peach in the upstate.  Crawling stage is out now and sprays are recommended for this pest.  It can when build up and completely kill a block of peach trees.  It is worse on late-season varieties.  Movento, Esteem, and Centaur are all labeled on this crop for that pest.  Make sure to remove completely dead limbs before spraying, if possible, and make sure you get extremely good coverage.  200 gallons of total spray solution is recommended to achieve that goal.”

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San Jose scale on a dead peach limb. Photo from Andy Rollins.

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Be sure to remove dead limbs prior to spraying for San Jose scale.  Photo from Andy Rollins.

 

Update to Small Business Administration COVID-19 Related Loans

From the Clemson Extension Agribusiness Team.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) has been administering two particular pots of money that businesses have been able to access during the COVID-19 pandemic. These pots of money were first funded through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) and are called the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Emergency Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL).

Originally with the exception of a small carve-out, most of agriculture was not eligible for the EIDL but as long as they met specific criteria they were able to access the PPP. During this time, additional rules and guidance had been released and updated multiple times which has provided additional information as well as confusion and created more questions than may have been answered. Then the money ran out. Over the past week, Congress has been working on an additional appropriation for these two funds through the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act (PPPHCEA). On Tuesday, April 21, 2020, the U.S. Senate passed the amendment and bill and by April 22, 2020, it was sent to the U.S. House. The U.S. House passed the bill on Thursday, April 23, 2020, and sent it on for the President’s signature. The President is expected to sign it on Friday, April 24, 2020.

The Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act appropriated additional funds as follows:

  •  $310 billion to the Paycheck Protection Program:
    • As part of the $310 billion, there is a carve-out that created a set-aside for $30 billion of the funds to go directly through “insured depository institutions, credit unions, and community financial institutions” for “community financial institutions, small insured depository institutions, and credit unions”. This means it includes community development financial institutions, and credit unions Institutions that have consolidated assets of less than $10 billion will have the potential to access and lend the $30 billion that has been appropriated for that group of financial institutions.
    • $280 billion of the $310 billion that was appropriated can be accessed through institutions that can service SBA loans and programs as was done through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES).
  • $10 billion to the Emergency Injury Disaster Loan:
    o Producers of agricultural enterprises are specifically stated as eligible for EIDL if they meet the definition of small business.
  • The bill also provides funds to be used for health and human services purposes:
    • $75 billion to be used by eligible healthcare providers for healthcare-related expenses or lost revenues due to COVID-19.
    • $25 billion to prevent, prepare for and respond to COVID-19. This allows for research and development, validation, manufacturing, purchasing, and administering of COVID-19 testing.

If you have an interest in being able to access any funds to assist your farm or business that has been affected due to COVID-19 related reasons we recommend you check with your local lending institutions or the Small Business Administration (SBA) NOW! It is expected that the funding that has been appropriated will not last very long.

SBA Link to download pdf of Participating Lenders for PPP:
SBA Link to apply for EIDL

For further information and links about the loans and other COVID-19 related issues please visit the Clemson Extension Agribusiness Team COVID-19 Resources website.

Further information on general agricultural business-related information and farm management can be found at the Clemson Extension Agribusiness Team’s webpage.

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 – 4/13/20

All of SC is now under a “Home or Work” order from Governor McMaster. Farming is an essential industry, so Commissioner Weathers has issued this Notice of Essential Food and Agricultural Employee form that farms may fill out for each employee certifying them as an essential employee. Employees should keep this form with them while commuting to and from work.

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “We had a great week of weather last week in the Lowcountry.  I am extremely concerned and curious to see what things look like after the powerful line of storms we had Monday morning.  I feel like we will see lots of damage to taller crops and in areas where there were no windbreaks.  If plants suffered in the storm and have open wounds from sand, wind, or tying twine, then expect to see more disease.  It would be a great time to get out some fungicides and bactericides to prevent spreading of diseases.  As of Friday, our crops looked great.  I have been seeing LOTS of damage by our biggest pest in the Lowcounty…DEER.  Fencing is cheap compared to the amount of money you are losing to browsing damage. Check out this publication on fencing.

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A deer browsed tomato (left) and un-browsed tomato (right).  Photo from Zack Snipes.

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When browsing occurs, other competitors such as nutgrass take hold further impacting yield. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “The weather was nice last week and crops really responded. Brassicas and sweet corn are both growing really fast. Strawberry production really picked up last week too. Luckily, sales at produce stands have been really good lately. We had a really strong storm come through early Monday morning and we expect to see some water damaged strawberries as a result and probably some diseases like black rot on brassicas.  Strawberry growers, be sure to sanitize the plants well so damaged fruit won’t become inoculum for Botrytis and anthracnose.

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Workers at James Sease Farms in Gilbert grading strawberries fresh from the field. Strawberry season is in full swing. Support your local farmers!  Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “The peach crop is coming along nicely. Some high chill hour requiring varieties are developing at an uneven rate but only time will tell if there will be a good crop on those. Strawberry production is picking up. A couple of cooler nighttime temperatures may have slowed progression a bit but harvests are still on the rise. Field crops like spinach, kale, and broccoli are performing well. Some cucurbits being planted as well as tomatoes as labor needs are filled.

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Blossom blight caused by the fungi, Monilinia fructicola. Extended bloom and lots of rain during winter months made ideal conditions for infection. Refer to the 2020 Peach Management Guide for information on treating and preventing spread of brown rot. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Awful infestation of early season diamondback caterpillar on brassicas like collards/cabbage most likely due to the overwintering on brassicas like radish in cover crops.  When these crops are terminated for summer cropping these insects and other insects like yellow-margined beetle invade vegetable production fields.  Also, cover crops containing brassicas should not be used in vegetable production fields because they increase diseases like bacterial soft rot and sclerotinia, which are tremendous problems in all types of vegetable crops.

I hope all strawberry growers got their ripe fruit out of their fields before this storm – if not a lot of fruit will most likely be discarded.  Some rain was needed hope not too much falls – in S.C. when it rains it pours.  Most summer crops are planted and we did get some wind damage and sandblasting causing stunting but no frost damage in the Pee Dee.  The first plantings of processing tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers are in and after this rain more will be quickly following.  Spring brassicas are loving this rain.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “It was confirmed that a tornado touched down in Seneca, SC early this morning around 3:30am. Reports of damage to agricultural operations have been limited, but there is certainly significant damage to business and residential structures. Apple and peach crops are looking good right now. We have many farmers market operations who will be replanting/reseeding after last night’s heavy rains.”

Andy Rollins reports, “We have been trapping high numbers of Oriental Fruit Moths in pheromone traps in peach orchards in upstate SC weekly.  Numbers have been much higher in our late season varieties.  We are assisting growers with correct timing of spray applications directed at egg hatch.  We are also encouraging growers to rotate insecticide classes to prevent failure of the pyrethroids if this hasn’t already occurred.  Dr. Brett Blaauw UGA/Clemson peach entomologist has been directing the effort aimed at reducing damage from this pest.”

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Oriental fruit moths captured on a sticky trap. Photo from Andy Rollins.

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.

 

Field Update – 3/30/20

At this time, due to COVID-19, all in-person Clemson Extension meetings have been postponed through June 1st.  Keep an eye on the COVID-19 Resources page for updates.

The SCDA’s list of farms offering deliveries and pick-ups has grown significantly in the last week. View or contact LauraKate McAllister to be added to the list here.

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “The weather has significantly warmed which has really helped our crops.  Strawberries are in peak production and growers are seeing record sales.  Other direct market growers are seeing higher sales numbers right now as well. Tomatoes are looking good with no issues.  Highbush blueberries are looking like they will have a decent crop and should be coming off soon.  I have seen some freeze damage on the earliest varieties of highbush that endured very cold temperatures.  Later season rabbiteye blueberries are in full bloom right now.”

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San Joaquin highbush blueberry with a good fruit load that should be ready soon. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “The first half of last week was very wet, the second half was very warm.  Strawberries are growing well, but harvest volumes haven’t picked up yet.  Growers are easily selling everything they pick.  Keep scouting for spider mites.  After a very easy fall and winter, caterpillar populations are starting to climb in brassica crops.  Be sure to get out and scout for those.  Sweet corn is also up and growing.

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Diamondback moth caterpillar on the underside of a broccoli leaf. Photo from Justin Ballew.

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Sweet corn up and growing.  Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Fruit is developing nicely on peach trees with little to no signs of cold damage at this time. Vegetable transplants are going in now including squash, bell peppers, and eggplant. Strawberry harvest has begun. Spider mite populations are slightly high right now.

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Peaches are developing well. Photo from Sarah Scott.

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Newly transplanted squash plant. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean report, “It has just about turned into summer with temperatures (over the last few days) in the mid and upper 80s… and the crops have really responded. Muscadines have started leafing out across the region, with some early flower development occurring. Later blueberry varieties (like Tifblue, Onslow and Powderblue) are blooming heavily, while earlier varieties of blueberries have completed flowering, or getting near to completion. Strawberries are blooming and fruiting heavily, and there are some light volumes being picked now. Angular leaf spot is showing up on some strawberries. This is due to the wet conditions that we have been experienced, this year. Spider mites are still being found in strawberries. So, regular scouting is necessary.”

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A syrphid fly visiting a strawberry flower. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “Growers are preparing land, bedding, and planting before this rain gets here. Most early sweetcorn is planted.  Sweet potato beds are sprouting – along with weeds- kill the weeds now. Fresh market tomatoes and pepper are being planted. I have seen a lot of ugly strawberries from cinch bugs, stinkbugs, thrips, boron deficiency, etc. Butterbeans are being rapidly planted. Processing tomato and pepper land has been treated with Vapam- always follow all label directions. Cabbage is beginning to cup. There is more demand than strawberry supply right now.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Growers are trying to stay ahead of the game with some social distance mowing. No freeze damage spotted so far on apples or peaches in the Long Creek/Mt. Rest area. Bloom is very erratic and varies from tree to tree. Picture is of Mike Ables, with Ables Orchard bush hogging and a granny smith in full bloom.”

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Mike Ables of Albes Orchard bush hogging weeds.  Photo from Kerrie Roach.

Granny Smith Bloom

A syrphid fly visiting a Granny Smith bloom. Photo from Kerrie Roach