Weekly Field Update – 3/29/21

Coastal

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

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

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

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

Midlands

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

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

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

Pee Dee

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

Upstate

Weekly Field Update – 1/19/21

Remember to check out the “Upcoming Events” tab for upcoming meetings. The next one is this Wednesday (1/21/21) at 6pm. Dr. Brian Ward will be discussing fertility for organic crops.

Statewide

Dr. Matt Cutulle reports, “Burndown herbicide efficacy can be reduced in colder weather, especially systemic products such as glyphosate (Reduced translocation in the cold means herbicide does not move through the plant as much). A contact herbicide like Gamoxone is not significantly impacted by cold weather, thus it might be a good option to use on medium to small weeds. If you have to use glyphosate make sure that the formulation is loaded with a non-ionic surfactant (NIS) and then add 2.5% Ammonium Sulfate (AMS).  If the glyphosate formulation is not loaded with NIS, added an NIS product (should contain at last 90% active ingredient) such as Induce at 0.25% (quarter of 1%) in the tank mix.”

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “Now is the perfect time to gear up for the upcoming season with preventative maintenance on sprayers and tractors.  Proper spray coverage is absolutely essential when spraying expensive pesticides and nutrients.  Why would you buy a jug of pesticide for $800 and not have it properly applied?  I was at a farm last week working on a spray trial and we took a few hours to clean out screens, filters, and orifices in the sprayer.  The sprayer I was working on had 5 out of 10 nozzles completely clogged and corroded.  We would only get half or less coverage since the nozzles were so clogged.  Once we cleaned everything, we needed to recalibrate our sprayer since we were actually putting out product through all of the nozzles.  Take the time and get things ready for the year.”

Proper spray coverage on a nice looking crop of strawberries.  Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Last week stayed pretty cool (high temps in the 50s), wet, and cloudy. Crops aren’t growing very fast right now. We still have a few greens being harvested, but we’ve slowed down from the New Years rush. Most of the strawberries I’ve looked at are still around the 2-3 crown stage. We’re seeing some aphids here and there, but those are rarely anything to be concerned about. Instead, keep checking for mites. Spider mites are active when daytime temperatures are over 50 degrees, so even though it’s chilly to us, they’re active for most of the winter. Fields planted adjacent to tomatoes back in the fall need to be scouted especially well.”

Great stand of rye between the rows of this strawberry field. This will help tremendously with weed suppression. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Be sure to get out and scout your strawberries. Starting to see a fair amount of Phomopsis in the fields. Captan will give some control, but Rally is a better option. Also, starting to see some Botrytis showing up on ripening fruit… that fruit that has been able to escape frost events and develop. Removal of infected fruit and dead leaves will help reduce pathogen when it comes time to flower and fruit. Across the northern portion of the Pee Dee the strawberry crop is pretty varied in development and appearance. Some plantings are well behind others. This is primarily due to the frequent and heavy rains since planting. Any plants that may have been set (even the least bit) low, experienced loose soil to be washed down around the crown, burying the crown too deep. With the crown being buried, the plants were either stunted or killed. Stunted plants can recover, but likely will not develop and yield properly come spring. Now is the time to begin winter pruning of blueberries, blackberries and muscadines… as well as many fruit trees. Proper winter pruning will go a long way towards improving yield, plant health, overall plant architecture and size management. Ideally, winter pruning for perennial fruiting plants should be performed between early January through early March.”

Botrytis already showing up on strawberries. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “Wet, wet, wet.  Badly need to start bedding for stale-bed-culture.  Putting off bedding sweet potatoes until March.  I have seen a lot of spider mites on strawberries and started to spray to get them under control.  However, too wet to get tractor in fields so many farmers are using backpack mist sprayers to get job done.”