Weekly Field Update – 4/26/21

Join us this Wednesday (3/24/21) at 12:30 pm for an update from the tomato fields with Zack Snipes. It will be a relatively short meeting, lasting 30-45 minutes, so tune in while you eat your lunch. Click here to register.

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “Crops in the area continue to develop well, and I expect this to continue after some welcome rainfall over the weekend.  Following the rain over the weekend and returning to warm temperatures, keep scouting for diseases in crops and ensure fungicide applications are made promptly. Spider mites show activity in a range of crops from strawberries to peppers, tomatoes, and blackberries. Always remember to use a specific miticide for spider mite control to avoid flaring populations. Cucumber beetles are beginning to be found in sticky traps. Currently, no damage is being seen to crops. Treatment options include neonicotinoid insecticides applied as a foliar spray or through the drip system.  When treatments are made, it is possible feeding damage will be seen as the pests need to ingest the pesticide.”

Zack Snipes reports, “We finally got some rain last week that I think will benefit all of our crops. Spider mites were the talk of the community last week. I saw high populations on strawberries as well as blackberries. On farms with mixed produce, you will want to scout all crops, even if they are at a stage where they normally wouldn’t have mites. I found mites on tomatoes last week because they were adjacent to a strawberry crop. We need to get on top of this pest before its too late. There are plenty of IPM techniques and strategies for this pest. Also, if you have sprayed a product in strawberry and are considering treating other crops nearby, you may want to rotate products/chemistries from what you sprayed on strawberry. Chances are those are the same genetically similar spider mites so if you had any resistance in strawberry, or another crop, then you may see it on tomato or watermelon.”

Taking good photos of spider mites is tough but on this leaf you can see several two-spotted spider mites. Don’t wait until you see symptomatic damage to manage this pest.    

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We had a cold event in the midlands that seems like it got around 5 degrees colder in most areas than what the forecast called for. It got to 35 at my house Wednesday night/Thursday morning. South of Columbia and Lake Murray, I only heard a couple reports of light frost, but north of Columbia, I heard reports of the temperatures reaching 31. We’re certainly going to see some damage in those areas to spring crops that weren’t covered. On another note, strawberries are yielding really well right now. Growers are reporting that yields are at times outpacing sales. We finally got some rain this weekend (just under an inch at my house), so we’re going to see some water-damaged berries and the moisture will give grey mold an opportunity to increase. The rain was good news for spider mite management, as their populations had been thriving in the dry conditions. Diamondback moth populations are increasing in brassicas, so keep up with scouting.”

Strawberries have been yielding well and berry size has been quite large on some cultivars. Photo from Justin Ballew
We haven’t seen much grey mold lately, but the rain we had over the weekend may allow it to make a comeback. Photo from Justin Ballew

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Last week’s brief kiss of frost doesn’t appear to have caused any significant problems on the crops. But, it is starting to get a bit dry. Sweet corn and pea emergence has been looking good, with most locations having an excellent stand. Cucurbit crops are starting to emerge, as well. Transplant tomatoes are looking very good. Everyone is taking advantage of this beautiful weather to plant vegetable crops and blueberries… just don’t forget to irrigate. Strawberry harvest is peaking right now and the fruit looks really good. Disease pressure is pretty low, but spider mite activity is high in many locations. In blueberries, much of the damaged fruit (from the Easter freeze) is beginning to shed off of the plant. Hopefully, this will continue… so lingering damaged fruit will not slow down harvest (starting in a few weeks). Muscadines are starting to show some early flower bud development.”

Early flower bud development in Carlos muscadine. Photo from Bruce McLean.
Crimson clover cover crop in a muscadine vineyard is a beautiful sight to see. It serves as a great habitat for beneficial insects. Photo from Bruce McLean.
Blueberries planted on plastic mulch covered beds. The plastic reduces the development of weeds, thereby reducing competition for the newly planted blueberry plants. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “Peppers, cucumber, and tomatoes are just sitting and not growing. Extra fertilizer will do little for growth in these cool conditions. Cabbage needs to be sprayed for thrips, sclerotinia, and caterpillars. Cabbage, collards, and greens are loving the cool weather and hauling butt, so side-dress to keep growing. Strawberries are loving these cool conditions and are really producing. We are having an overabundance of local strawberries making them hard to sell – many are being discarded. Just a small amount of wind damage. Tomatoes, peppers, and cucumber plants were not big enough to act like a sail and be blown (twisted-off) in the wind. Got just enough rain to start planting dryland peas. I know I will regret saying this – “but I hope it warms up soon.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Every day brings us a little closer to May in the Upstate, and with that brings a little less chance of a frost or freeze event. Last week Thursday brought on lows of 30-32 degrees F in many places causing damage to warm season crops as well as landscapes across the upstate. Strawberry growers have slowed since the cool weather, but production will start to pick back up with warmer days and nights this week.”

Weekly Field Update – 4/19/21

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “We had some nice weather last week. The tomato crop is looking great as are most of our cucurbits and greens. I am seeing increased caterpillar pressure across the area. We had several calls from across the state early last week about sunburned strawberries. We went and visited the farms and tried to rule out disease, frost damage, etc. The only thing we came up with is some sort of sunburn damage. This was most prevalent on the southern facing sides of beds where there was poor canopy coverage. I also saw damaged tissue on tender lettuce, in my citrus plots at the CREC, and on some new shoots of ornamentals at my house. I checked the solar radiation at the weather station at the CREC and the units (W/m2) were 300-500 units higher on Monday when compared to the prior 4 days. Perhaps we had intense UV levels and higher temperatures that led to this damage? Here is a really great article on the types of sunburn on plants and fruit.”

Discolored, damaged, and unmarketable strawberries. Photo from Zack Snipes.
The berries were clean on the inside and had no bad odors or flavor. Photo from Zack Snipes.
Solar radiation measurement from a weather station at Coastal REC in Charleston. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “The weather was a little cooler last week and we are really dry here in the midlands. I’ve had less than 4 tenths of an inch of rain so far in the month of April. This has been really helpful for disease management in strawberries. I’ve seen very little grey mold compared to years past. Spider mites are enjoying the dry weather, though. I’m starting to see populations really grow, so keep a close eye on that. Caterpillar populations appear to be building, though overall they are still low on spring planted brassicas. Tomatoes and cucurbits have been going in the ground and doing well so far. Sweet corn is growing well and it’s hard to even tell some of the leaves were burned by the cold a couple weeks ago.”

Two-spotted spider mites on the underside of a strawberry leaf. Photo from Justin Ballew.
If a treatment is needed for mites, use a dedicated miticide. Using broad spectrum insecticides kills beneficials, like this lacewing, which can lead to explosive mite population growth. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Peach producers are continuing thinning fruit since we feel that we have a good assessment of what was damaged by cold. Growers who have varieties with significant losses may want to take a look at a reduced spray schedule to ensure adequate disease and pesticide coverage for the season. It’s important to maintain orchards even if they are not going to produce a crop to maintain the health of the trees.”

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Cool night temperatures making strawberries, cabbage, collards, and greens happy. We are actually having a true spring this year. Labor is our #1 problem for small growers. Some crops have been destroyed by mistakenly applying the wrong chemicals, especially atrazine since corn is being planted now. Hundreds of acres of tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers are already planted and holding their own.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Peach and apple damage continues to be assessed. Weather forecasts in northern Oconee County for Tuesday night/Wednesday morning predict more cold weather, but growers are hoping for temperatures to stay above freezing as forecasted. Strawberries in the Upstate are starting to ripen. Last week most fields were being spot picked, but with warm sunny days many of the u-pick operations are beginning to open this week. The cold temperatures predicted Tuesday night/Wednesday morning could become an issue for berry growers depending on location, elevation, and air movement.”

Weekly Field Update – 4/12/21

Statewide

Dr. Matt Cutulle reports, “I am starting to see some goosegrass popping due to soil temperatures being 65 F. Goosegrass will typically be problematic in more compacted areas of the field. In most broadleaf crops a Select or Poast post-emergent application will control emerged goosegrass. PRE herbicide options include Curbit and Dual Magnum (If crop is labeled). In rice it is important to remember that Quinclorac products will kill crabgrass but not goosegrass. The best rice product that will control goosegrass effectively in SC is Clincher.”

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “Crops are generally doing well in the area, with strawberries coming off with good volumes. On the whole, row covers or icing protected 97% of the susceptible flowers leading to 1-2% losses of flowers. The damaged flowers can increase grey mold pressure in the crops so, maintaining both sanitation and fungicide applications to strawberries will be crucial. As berries ripen, sanitation also becomes essential for reducing pest pressure from sap beetles. In some crops, where row covers were utilized, we see spider mite populations increasing and a few active thrips feeding on both flowers and berries. Other fruit crops in the area, such as blackberries and blueberries, look very good with low levels of damage from the freeze event last weekend. Peaches in the area are being thinned, with scouting being maintained for scale and plum curculio. Early planted watermelons did suffer from the frost in places, leading to 10-15% plant loss and hence the need to replant in a few areas. Other crops are moving slowly away from the injuries. Luckily a lot of crops were not beginning to vine and survived the worst of the damage. These plants are stressed, so care will be needed with any applications as well as scouting for pest and disease issues. Conversely, Cantaloupes in the area were direct seeded and have survived unscathed.”

Zack Snipes reports, “I was out and about last week as things are moving rather quickly in the fields. Spider mites are alive and active in every strawberry patch that I was in last week. You will see the translucent mite with 2 distinct spots as well as a reddish colored mite. The reddish colored mite is actually a two-spotted spider mite. We see this red form early in the season. Get out and scout as the weather is perfect for them. I am also seeing strawberry plants wilting down and dying. If you cut the crown you will see a brown/red rot in the center of the crown. Send these plants off for diagnosis. Most of what I have seen has been Phytophthora. We lost some cucurbit crops to the frost last weekend but some areas had no damage at all or slight damage. For some positive news, we are cutting some beautiful broccoli right now.”

Lower lying areas of fields or areas where the drip tape was nicked is where I am seeing some root rot issues. Photo from Zack Snipes.
Cutting the crown of wilting strawberry plants can help detect the pathogen responsible.  Sending off to the lab is the only way to get a 100% diagnosis of the problem. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Strawberry picking started on a wider scale this past week. This conveniently coincided with spring break for a lot of the public schools in our area, so U-pick operations have been busy. The weather was very mild last week, so everything is looking great. Spider mite and grey mold activity seems to be very low. There are a few thrips in certain places, so that’s something we need to keep an eye on. Brassicas are growing well. Caterpillar populations are still pretty low in most spring planted crops. There was a little injury to sweet corn from the recent frosts, but we expect the plants to grow out of it. Sweet corn’s growing point is underground until the 6 leaf stage. Since pretty much all the sweet corn was at the 3 leaf stage or younger, the growing points were protected and the damage is just superficial.”

Strawberry season has finally arrived in the Midlands. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “We are still assessing peach crop damage from freeze events happening between 4/1 and 4/3. It looks like anywhere from 1/4 to 1/3 of fruitlets were damaged by the cold event but with no additional damage we should still be on track for a good crop this year.  Strawberries were delayed a bit from the cold but are recovering nicely. Planting continues for crops like kale and other spring greens.”

Peach fruitlets at shuck off. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Strawberries are really starting to come off. The quality is very good, and the plants are in good health. Disease is relatively low and spider mite activity is moderate. Damage was minimal from the freeze before Easter. We did see some damage on blueberries, though. Blueberries without frost protection (in especially cold locations) did see some significant injury to both early southern highbush and early rabbiteye cultivars. Injury of 80% was observed in Star and O’Neal (southern highbush) and Premier (rabbiteye). Blueberries with frost protection fared much better. This shows the importance of having well-designed frost protection if you are going to grow early-blooming cultivars. Muscadines, being at budbreak, did not show any significant injury. Farmers are taking advantage of this absolutely beautiful weather to plant vegetables. Sweet corn, peas, butterbeans, cucumbers, squash, melons, tomatoes, etc. are going in the ground as fast as they can. Blueberries are being planted now too.

Black and brown seed and tissue within the berry shows that the fruit was injured from the freeze and will not develop. Photo from Bruce McLean.
Damage to early fruitlets on rabbiteye blueberry. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “Most strawberries are doing well and really starting to produce a lot of fruit. Cabbage is starting to head and is growing well. Brassica growers are applying products for diamondback moth and Sclerotinia. Some pickles are emerging and many acres will be planted this week. Some butterbeans are up and more are being planted. We will start to planting peas this week. Cool temperatures slowed sweetpotato slip growth a little, but most beds are covered with slips. Collards, turnips, and kale are growing fast. Hundreds of acres of tomatoes and peppers are already planted. A few acres of watermelons and cantaloupes are planted, but our main market is after the 4th of July.”

Weekly Field Update – 4/5/21

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “Temperatures checked in at 28 F at the northern end of Charleston County one night this past week. Strawberries were covered but some blossoms are showing damage. The weather this week should really push berries and give us our first big flush of the season. Lots of acres of tomatoes are planted and before the cold were looking pretty good.  Time will tell how much the cold will slow them down. It has been very windy in the Lowcountry as well which I think has slowed down development on some crops. Spring brassicas are looking great with very low worm pressure right now. That does not mean we should stop scouting. Populations can jump very quickly.”

Tomatoes were looking ok before the cold nights. Photo from Zack Snipes.
A fall seeded brassica crop beside strawberries is blooming. The thought behind this cover crop is the early blooms will encourage beneficial insects that will prey on the early season thrips which have been causing lots of cosmetic damage on strawberries the past few years. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We had a couple frosts late last week and the temperature got down to 30 degrees at my house. Growers covered their strawberry fields, so we don’t expect to see any damage there. We’re getting very close to picking on a larger scale. I’ve seen some nutrient deficiencies in a few strawberry fields, so be sure to tissue sample periodically and adjust fertigation accordingly. Now that we’re into April and the forecast looks warm, many growers will begin planting cucurbit crops this week. A few already had seed in the ground before the frost. The first plantings of sweet corn are up and growing well.”

One of the first plantings of sweet corn is up and looking good. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Still determining damage from frost. One grower had 40 A of butterbeans emerging – sprayed with a frost control product. Sweet potatoes slips are up, covered with plastic, and beds are covered with slips (about a month out from planting). Cabbage is beginning to cup, head, and touch in the rows. Asparagus was hurt by cold and most harvest is over. Starting to plant pickles, peppers, and tomatoes. Picked all ripe fruit and sprayed for disease before frost – this coming weekend will be a good harvest for most growers.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “With some very cold nights last week in the upstate, the apple and peach crops took a significant hit. With extreme differences in topography, each grower has different severities of loss, but the overall consensus is not great. It will be another week to tell for sure on the apples and a little over a week to tell on the peach crop with certainty. One orchard recorded a low of 25 degrees F on the first night and 26 the following night. Night one was actually less damaging because of a persistent wind, where night two was calm and allowed the cold air to settle in. As we assess damages in the orchards, here is a great explanation of how it is done: https://extension.psu.edu/orchard-frost-assessing-fruit-bud-survival

Weekly Field Update – 1/4/21

Happy New Year! We hope everyone had a great holiday season and is off to a good start in 2021. We have several virtual grower meetings coming up over the next two months, so keep an eye on the “Upcoming Events” page for info. Also, don’t forget the Southeastern Regional Fruit and Vegetable conference kicks off virtually this week and it’s not too late to register.

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “Firstly I would like to wish everyone a happy ,and successful 2021.   Crops in the area have slowed down with the cooler weather and we are seeing a reduction in caterpillar activity. Strawberries look good however it would be advisable in advanced crops to remove any flowers to reduce the botrytis pressure later in the season. Winter vegetables are looking very good with low levels of Alternaria leaf spot in some crops. If in doubt scout.

Zack Snipes reports, “One of my New Year’s Resolutions this year is to be more proactive rather than reactive.  I would like to extend that mentality to my field work as well.  This year I really want to help growers nip problems in the bud before they become problems.  Weekly calls, texts, check-ups, and regular visits can help both of us achieve our goals.  Give me a shout in 2021.”

Let’s work together before this happens. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We’ve had a lot of rain to start off the new year. A day or so after Christmas we saw temperatures down in the low 20’s and ended up with some cold damage on greens. They should grow out of it just fine. Strawberries are coming along. We are seeing spider mites build up in places, requiring treatment. Keep scouting regularly, even though it’s cool outside. Let me know if you need a second pair of eyes. On another note, I noticed daffodils starting to come up in my yard a few days before Christmas. Can’t ever remember seeing them emerge that early.”

Cold damage on mustard greens from the recent dip into the low 20s. Photo from Justin Ballew.
The view of spider mites on the underside of strawberry leaf through a 10X hand lens. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Field preparation for new peach tree plantings is underway along the Ridge. Some growers are using a plow to make berms to plant trees on to aid in disease management issues such as armillaria root rot. Lots of rain in the past week has made for muddy conditions.”

Freshly plowed peach field with berms for planting. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Very few greens undamaged after the cold if they weren’t either covered or protected in some way.  Strawberries are doing well. I hope there is not and I have not seen any cold damage of the crowns in the Pee Dee. I had 1 account where coyotes were biting through the row-covers to eat ripe strawberries.”

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 – 1/27/20

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “As the weather dipped last week I had lots of calls about covering strawberries.  Some growers thought they had enough plant and blooms that they should cover while others left them exposed to the cold.  On most farms, the frost damage was very minimal with only blooms facing upwards having damage.  Whether you covered or not, it is imperative that you sanitize your plants by removing dead fruit, blossoms, and leaf tissue.  Start clean this year.  Now would be a great time to get an application of boron in.  Boron is used in fruit and flower development.  Many times gnarled fruit can be attributed to boron deficiency.  1/8 of an actual pound of boron is recommended and can be applied via drip or spray.  Be careful to mix correctly as boron is an excellent herbicide if rates are too high.  Don’t forget about the Preplant Growers Meeting at the USDA in Charleston at 8:30-lunch on Wednesday.”

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Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “The first part of last week was cold. There were a lot of blooms and small green fruit on the strawberries that were damaged, but it was too early to be saving those anyway.  Just make sure to remove the dead fruit and blooms by the time we start saving blooms in the spring.  Brassicas made it through the cold with little damage, but Sclerotinia white mold continues to progress in some fields.”

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Strawberry blooms turning brown from cold damage. Photo from Justin Ballew

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Sclerotinia white mold infection on a collard stem. Photo from Justin Ballew

 

Sarah Scott reports, “We are still harvesting cabbage, kale, collards, and other greens at this time. Wet weather is causing some rot issues in fields especially in low spots with heavy soils. Peach trees are being planted. The Ridge area has not accumulated enough chill hours at this time for higher chill varieties but the extended forecast looks promising for that to happen. Weeds are popping up in strawberry fields from the warmer temperatures. Henbit growing in the holes with strawberry plants needs to be hand pulled as there is not an effective herbicide to use that will not cause injury to the strawberries.

Lalo Toledo reports, “Spider mite populations in strawberries have been steady in our area. This cold weather has put them behind, but they will recover. Remember to start spraying your protective fungicides on strawberries as soon as possible. Processing greens are doing great with some bacterial spots here and there. Fresh market collards are presenting cold damage across the county. Sclerotinia is still prevalent in many brassica crops such as cauliflower and cabbage. Please refer to the vegetable handbook for proper fungicide recommendations.”

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Cold damage on collard foliage. Photo from Lalo Toledo.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Cold temps set flowering/fruiting of strawberries back to ground zero.  Growers got some land for greens bedded.”

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 – 12/2/19

Coastal Region

Zack Snipes reports, “Very few diseases and insects to report this week.  The cooler weather and rain have really made fall planted greens and peas take off.  We are still harvesting peppers and even an occasional squash and zucchini. The strawberry crop looks like it has taken root and is off to a good start with the exception of some deer damage here and there. I want to remind everyone of the NC Vegetable Expo which will be taking place in Wilmington, NC beginning on Thursday and going until Saturday.  The Farm Bureau Annual Conference is also taking place this week in Myrtle Beach.  Be sure to take advantage of these learning opportunities and pick up some last minute pesticide credits.

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Peas growing well on the coast. Photo from Zack Snipes

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Still harvesting some peppers on the coast. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “The weather last week was very mild and we had a couple light rains. This lead to some good growth on our strawberries and brassicas.  Whiteflies are showing up again in low numbers in a few brassica fields and caterpillar numbers remain low.  Stay on a regular scouting schedule, though.  We’re harvesting lots of good looking collards and kale as well as a few other brassicas. We have some fall strawberries that are blooming now as well.”

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Day neutral strawberries blooming as they grow. Photo from Justin Ballew

Lalo Toledo reports, “We are picking collards and kale this week. Most of the brassica crops look good except for some cold damage. Cold damage has been an issue in the midlands and lower state, particularly on leafy greens. Diamond-back moth populations remain low in our area. Black rot has been spotted in some parts of collard fields (V-shaped lesions on older leaves).

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Cold damage on older leaves. Photo from Lalo Toledo

Pee Dee Region

Tony Melton reports, “Insect problems on greens have reduced tremendously with the cooler weather.  Dry fall has assisted tremendously in the harvest of processing fall greens.  Therefore, only a few turnips and mustard left to harvest and regrowth collards are well on their way and will be ready to harvest around the first of the year.  The last of the sweet potatoes will be harvested this week if weather permits.  I have seen some spidermites on strawberries especially on the fall bearing crop.

Field Update – 11/25/19

Coastal Region

Zack Snipes reports, “Things are looking good in the Lowcountry. We are harvesting lots of produce right now just in time for the holidays. I have seen some cold damage on some brassicas but other than that very few issues to report.”

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Freshly harvested tumeric. Photo from Zack Snipes

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Cold damage on brassica. Photo from Zack Snipes

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “The weather has been pretty mild over the last week and we have had some rains. We’re picking some really good looking collards and kale right now. Caterpillar populations remain low in most places, though there are some hot spots around. Lots of folks have been asking about necrotic lower leaves on brassicas that have appeared since the temperature dipped into the 20’s the week before last.  In most cases this is only cold damage.  We can see some secondary fungal development on the damaged tissue, but its not really concerning.  Just pick those leaves off, the new growth will be fine.

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Lower collard leaf damaged by the cold. New growth will be unaffected. Photo from Justin Ballew

Sarah Scott reports, “Peach fields are being prepped for new plantings.  A levee plow is used to create berms to plant the trees on top of.  Growers have adapted this technique to increase tree life due to soil borne disease issues.”

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Planting peach trees on a berm reduces the risk of soil borne diseases. Photo from Sarah Scott

Pee Dee Region

Tony Melton reports, “Still digging processing sweet potatoes even though tops are dead. A good portion of fresh market collards were sold over weekend. All processing turnips, mustard, and collards have been harvested at least once and some twice. For a summary of vegetable research conducted at the Pee Dee Rec in 2019, see this PDF: 2019 PDREC Farm Research19.”

Upstate

Mark Arena reports seeing some premature pecan germination. “We can see this when the trees do not receive enough water to complete shuck splitting and the nuts remain lodged in the husk for an extended period. Combine this with warm late season temperatures after nut ripening is complete and the addition of rainwater accumulating in the shuck, which provides ample moisture to innate rooting. Affected nuts are considered inedible. Proper irrigation and shaking the trees in the easiest remedy for this condition.”

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Premature pecan germination. Photo from Mark Arena