Weekly Field Update – 11/8/21

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Coastal Region

Zack Snipes reports, “It feels like winter showed up this past week with cold, windy, gloomy days. Most, if not all of our strawberries have been planted. With the cool weather showing up and our later planting dates this year, some growers are opting to use lightweight row covers to push their plants along a little bit. A few things to remember if you opt to do this: use lightweight row covers, make sure all disease and insect issues are taken care of before putting the row covers on, and only leave them on for a few weeks. We want to encourage some growth of our plants but we don’t want our plants getting too big and succulent going into the winter. I visited several farms this week with poor quality fruit trees. A common thread between these plantings is planting depth. In our sandy soils, plants will sink over time so as Phillip Carnley says, “plant them proud,” which means plant them higher than you think they should be planted. Over time, the plants will settle into the correct depth. Pecans, blueberries, and other crops will not grow roots from their trunks, so over time the plant will rot and pathogens will get into the plant when they are buried too deep.”

A pecan tree that was planted 8 inches too deep. Photo from Zack Snipes.
A blueberry plant that has sunk over the past few years. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “It got pretty chilly towards the end of last week and we saw a light frost in a number of places this morning (11/8). Brassica crops are looking great right now. Diamondback moths are still out there, but they seem to be manageable at the moment. There is a little black rot here and there, though we haven’t had enough rain for it to really be a serious problem. Strawberries are getting established. We didn’t accumulate many growing degree days (GDD) last week since it got so cool. Again, I would think about using row covers for a week or two this month to help accumulate GDDs. Here’s a good Strawberry Grower Checklist from the Small Fruit Consortium that has some great tips for the fall season.”

Collards are looking great in the midlands right now. Soon, we’ll be picking a lot for the Thanksgiving market. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Vegetable crops are looking good around the Pee Dee. Some of the aphid and spider mite pressure that was seen earlier last week has subsided a bit. But, be sure not to drop your guard. Their populations can easily bounce back in dry conditions. Stink bugs are still present in pretty high numbers. Stink bugs (in high enough numbers) can cause damage to brassicas. So, be sure to scout and treat, accordingly. Strawberries are looking good for the most part. Unfortunately, I have seen a good bit of j-rooting in bareroot strawberries. J-rooting is a condition where the roots of the bareroot plant are improperly planted. Instead of the roots of the plant being planted vertically in the soil (where the planting hole is dug to an adequate depth for the length of roots of the transplant), the roots are buried horizontally just below the surface of the soil, often with the root tips exposed. This will severely impact the yield of your plant and if done repeatedly across the field, the yield for the entire planting. And, yield is money. It’s a lot easier to take a few minutes prior to planting to show your workers the proper way to plant bareroot plants. Providing them with a (bareroot) planting bar/tool and showing them how to properly use it helps to eliminate these problems. Checking behind your workers is important to ensure that they are continuing those planting techniques. Coming back and trying to fix a problem (if it is severe) is not realistic and cost prohibitive, because it would mean that every plant might need to be inspected and possibly replanted. Research out of California has shown that j-rooting can reduce yields 18.5%. That’s a pretty big bite of the apple (… or in this case, the strawberry) that the grower can likely lose right off the top. I don’t know too many growers that can handle that much of a loss on such a high value crop.”

Severe j-rooting on bareroot strawberry plant. Photo from Bruce McLean.

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 – 1/11/21

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “Vegetable crops are growing out of the impacts of frost well. There is active Alternaria in places on brassica crops. Insect activity in vegetable crops in the area remains low. Strawberry crops are moving well with a few spider mites and aphids being observed. Remember if mite treatment is needed use a specific miticide to target the pest to avoid flaring populations. If you need a second pair of eyes to help scout then please give me a shout.”

Zack Snipes reports, “I’ve been getting a good many calls about strawberries in recent weeks.  The warm weather has really pushed our berries, perhaps too far along for this time of year.  I know of a couple of farms that are already harvesting which I’m not sure is a great thing this early in the season.  Most fields look good with great growth but we only have a few crowns for each plant.  Hopefully some cool weather will come in and slow them down.  Make sure to sanitize the plants by removing all dead tissue and put out a preventative spray once you are done sanitizing.  Good preventative sanitization right now can do wonders for disease management later in the season.  Now is a good time to manage weeds before they get too large.  And while I am at it…now is the perfect time to get ready for the season by checking sprayers, getting fertigation systems set up and calibrated, and purchasing pesticides you know you will need for the season.” 

A sanitized plant and the dead and diseased tissue that came off of it. This needs to be taken out of the field and disposed of. Photo from Zack Snipes.
Corn spurry is a weed that needs to be managed now before its too late. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “The weather has remained cool, so everything is growing pretty slowly. We had another very rainy day last week and we got a little over 2 inches at my house. That’s over 6 inches for me so far in 2021 and I’ve had some folks tell me they’ve gotten over 8. We are seeing some cold damage to strawberry foliage, but nothing to worry about long term. Just make sure to sanitize any dead leaves and flowers as the temperatures warm in the spring. I’ve already seen some Botrytis developing on dead flowers, so we definitely need to remove these sources of disease inoculum. I’m counting 2-3 crowns per plant right now. If you’re behind that, it may be helpful to put row covers on for a couple weeks. Just scout for spider mites carefully first.”

Cold damage around the margins of strawberry leaves from the hard freeze right after Christmas. It didn’t get cold enough to damage the crowns. Photo from Justin Ballew
This bloom was killed by cold weather. It’s difficult to see here, but there are already a few botrytis spores developing on the flower. If not sanitized, this could become a significant source of inoculum. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Cold hurt green winter strawberries more than ripe ones due to increased sugar in ripe ones. Still got some squash producing in high tunnels if covered inside tunnel with row covers. We’re bedding green fields to allow weeds to germinate so they can be killed using stale-bed culture.”

Weekly Field Update – 12/7/20

This will be the final update of 2020. We will pick back up on 1/4/21. Be sure to keep an eye on the upcoming events tab give us a call if you need anything. Happy Holidays from the SC Grower team! We hope everyone takes some time to enjoy the season, and may 2021 bring you good health, great family time, and as always…prosperous fields!

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “A chilly week in the Lowcountry took out or really slowed down some of our fruiting crops like pepper, tomato, and cukes.  The brassicas and strawberries are loving this weather.  One thing I have noticed lately is lots of worm damage on brassica.  After talking to many growers, I hear that many are not using adjuvants in their spray tanks.  Adjuvants can help your pesticides work better.  A common one I would recommend on brassica crops is the use of a spreader-sticker.  Brassica crops have a waxy leaf which repels water.  The use of a spreader-sticker will help stick the pesticide droplet to your leaf and the spreader will help reduce surface tension so that the droplets spreads out on your leaf.  You will be amazed at how much better coverage you will get with a spreader-sticker and how much better your pesticide will work (organic or conventional pesticide).  Adjuvants are cheap so consider adding some to your tank today.  For more on adjuvants and spray tips, join us on Tuesday night from 6-8 pm for the Organic/Sustainable Farm Meeting via Zoom. The registration link can be found here.

Many crops have a waxy surface that cause pesticide mixtures to bead up on the plant.  The use of a spreader-sticker would have helped these pesticide droplets spread out and stick to the leaf which helps overall efficacy of your product. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We had two nights last week where temperatures dipped below freezing. After a long fall growing season, the tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and squash are done. Now growers will be focusing on strawberries, greens, and herbs. Strawberries in some fields had developed blooms as a result of the late warm weather. Now that the cold has killed them, it will be important to sanitize them before the spring, as dead blooms can become a significant source of grey mold inoculum. As always, don’t let up on scouting for caterpillars in greens.”

Due to a warm fall, several strawberry fields have developed some early blooms that have been/will be killed by the cold. Be sure to sanitize these blooms to keep grey mold from having dead tissue to develop on. Photo from Justin Ballew.
As the cold weather has finished off other fall crops, growers will be focusing more on greens now. This mustard is off to a great start. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Brassicas are being harvested. Pest pressure is relatively high this season including aphids and diamondback months. Peach fields are being prepped for new plantings. In areas where armillaria root rot has been an issue in past crops,  growers will use a plow to create burms to plant trees on. Rain has slowed plowing down but there is a dry forecast for the next 7 days.”