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