Weekly Field Update – 3/8/21

Statewide

Dr. Matt Cutulle reports, “Anyone planting spring broccoli should be wary of the cold weather we have had regarding soil herbicide interactions. Be careful with Pre-transplant applications of Devrinol and to a lesser extent Dual Magnum, as they can cause some stunting when soil temperatures are cooler. Goal or Goaltender is the safest pre-transplant herbicide applied when the soil temperatures based on field studies in Charleston.”

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “We had some sunshine last week which really brightened everything up. The last few nights have been cool with some frost on the ground in the mornings. Things are starting to green up and fields are drying out enough to plant. We are still direct-seeding crops around the region and will begin transplanting tomatoes in some areas this week. I spent last week checking strawberry fields to make sure things were good to go before they really bust out. I have been helping folks calibrate their drip fertigation systems for the upcoming season. If you think you need a hand with this please let me know. Dialing in exactly how much fertilizer to use each day or week can really increase yields and lessen the amount of fertilizer that is leached. Leaching fertilizer means your plants aren’t taking it up, thus costing you money.”

Venturi type fertigation injector on a strawberry farm.  Dialing in your fertility can really increase yields and reduce leaching of fertilizer. Photo from Zack Snipes.
A nice patch of ball clover in the drive row of strawberry.  We planted this to hold the soil, reduce sand on the berries, withstand foot traffic, and bring in early season beneficials to help with thrips control. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We had several beautiful, sunny days last week. The warm days seemed to really push plants along. Last night got cool (29 degrees at my house) and strawberry growers had to pull row covers over the fields to protect the blooms. We have some small, developing fruit now that would easily be damaged without row covers. I’m seeing very few spider mites in fields, even though conditions have turned dry here in the midlands. Remember that Botrytis spore production is high when temperatures are in the 60 to 70 degree range, so we need to be staying on top of our spray programs right now. In other news, brassica planting continues and for now caterpillar pressure seems to be light.”

Small developing strawberries like this one can be damaged easily by cold. Photo from Justin Ballew
Internal discoloration of the two strawberries on top indicate cold damage. These fruit will not ripen and will become excellent sources of Botrytis inoculum. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Boy, it got a bit chilly last night. Still looking at temperatures for the area, but it would be a safe bet that much of the area saw 28 degrees or lower. Strawberries were covered, so little problems there. Blueberries did see some damage on blooms that had fully opened. Most of the flowers were still in the Early Pink Bud stage or at Budbreak, so no damage to those blooms. Frost protection could have saved those flowers and potential fruit, but it is still early in the season. Keeping our fingers crossed that we don’t see any more nights of freezing temperatures.”

Early pink stage in bluberry flowering. Photo from Bruce McLean.
Damaged corollas (flowers) on blueberries. Likely experienced 28 degrees or lower. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Weekly Field Update – 2/22/21

Don’t forget to check out the Upcoming Events page for all the meetings coming up over the next couple months. The next meeting will be this Thursday (2/25) from 2-4 pm about Apple Production. We hope to see you there!

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “Another rainy, wet, and cold week last week.  Some sunshine and warmer temperatures coming this week.  All of our fruit crops have received their chill hours and are just waiting to burst out for spring.  I expect to really see fruit crops take off this week.  Make sure that you have a fertility plan for the spring crop.  Don’t let your crop be without fertility at the critical moments. For more information on fruit fertility visit https://smallfruits.org/ipm-production-guides/.  For smaller farms, Clemson’s Home Garden and Information Center is a wonderful resource as well.”

Early varieties of highbush blueberries are in bloom right now. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “To say last week was wet would be an understatement. We received about 4 inches of rain at my house last week and the ground was already saturated before it started. I’ve seen water standing even in sandy fields. On the bright side, irrigation ponds are looking full. Most strawberry growers have covered their fields to protect the blooms now. This means we should start seeing our first ripe fruit around mid-March. Don’t forget to start tissue sampling so we can make sure the plants are getting everything they need as they are beginning to produce fruit.”

Row covers on a strawberry field protect the blooms from late winter/early spring cold. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Wet, wet, wet… Last week’s rain has cause some significant ponding and flooding throughout the Pee Dee. Last week, I had a number of conversations with growers concerning application of fumigants for early crops – timing, too wet, how effective? Not a lot of good options with soil moisture being so high, right now. We really need some sunshine and a steady breeze to help dry fields out. Wet fields are preventing spraying, hindering application of row covers and hindering pruning of perennial crops (blueberries, muscadines, and blackberries). Some crops are starting to “back up” due to the wet soils. An application of mefenoxam (Ridomil) or phosphorous acid (K-phite), in locations where root rot is suspected, would be beneficial.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “A beautiful weekend of weather was much needed for tree fruit growers getting in orchards and finishing up dormant pruning for the year. Pruning out dead, diseased, and damaged limbs, opening the canopy, and reducing overall vegetative growth is extremely important for tree fruit integrated pest management (IPM). Pruning increases light penetration and air movement, reducing disease potential, and also allows for better spray coverage during application. More rain today and even more projected toward the end of the week will continue to delay any kind of field work, as the ground is oversaturated. Don’t forget, this Thursday is the SC Apple Grower Meeting via Zoom from 2-4pm! Check it out on the upcoming events page!

Andy Rollins reports, “Found major scale problem on large scale muscadine producer’s farm. Scale was identified on the main scaffolds and also on last years wood. Mineral oil (Damoil) is labeled but is recommended at much lower rate than other fruits. Only 1% by volume or 1 gallon per 100 gallons of water, but needs 200 gallons of total solution applied per acre to get sufficient coverage. This is because the oil needs to get into very tight areas where the scale can reside. We also recommended the use of a labeled insecticide with the oil to increase efficacy. Once the plants come out of dormancy other products are available but determination will be made at that time if necessary. Peach and strawberry production had no major issues to address.  One strawberry farm began picking the last week of January this year in high tunnel production and picked 30 flats of fruit and is still producing.

Scale on the main scaffolds of muscadines. Photo from Andy Rollins.
Up close view of scale on muscadine scaffolds. Photo from Andy Rollins.

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.”

Weekly Field Update 11/30/20

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “After a long Thanksgiving nap, I was able to waddle out in the fields and look at some strawberries.  We have had some really good strawberry growing weather especially considering most folks got their plants out somewhat late this year.  We need some cold weather to slow them down a bit in places.  I am seeing a tiny bit of plant collapse and death in some spots within the fields.  It is very important to send these plants into our lab to get a positive identification of the pathogen.  Phytophthora crown rot and anthracnose crown rot can cause similar symptoms but are managed completely different. For information on how to submit a sample during COVID times, click here. I am also keeping my eye on a good bit of leaf spotting in some fields to make sure its not the new disease, Neopestalotiopsis. I don’t think we have it yet, but being proactive is better than being reactive.  More information on that disease can be found here.”   

A healthy and a diseased plant side-by-side.  Perhaps a positive identification of the pathogen can help with management to protect the healthy plant. Photo from Zack Snipes.
Determining the pathogen responsible for plant collapse can be tricky in the field.  Send in a plant pathology sample to our lab.  Is this anthracnose, phytophthora, or another pathogen? Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “The mornings were nice and cool last week and we saw light frosts in a few more areas. We’ve been getting a fair amount of rain also. This has the brassica crops looking great. Caterpillar populations are still fairly high. Don’t give up on scouting as it gets cooler this week. Diamondback moth caterpillars and adults can survive for several hours at temperatures well below freezing, so a few nights in the upper 20’s is unlikely to affect them, other than slowing down their life cycle a bit. Don’t give up on scouting for mites in strawberries either. Even though we’ve had some wet weather lately, they’re still out there.”

Lacinato kale is growing well and looking good. Cropping has already started in this field. Photo from Justin Ballew
Keep up with scouting for caterpillars as the weather gets cooler. Winters in SC don’t get cold enough to wipe out diamondback moth populations. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “We still have some sweet potatoes in the ground. Greens are growing well except for bacterial diseases. Some diamondback are hard to kill. We are trying everything.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “With a low of 30 degrees Fahrenheit predicted tonight, and 26 degrees F predicted tomorrow night(Tuesday), growers in the Upstate should be making preparations for a hard freeze event. Wind speeds from 10-25 miles per hour have begun, and are expected to continue through Tuesday. So make sure any protective measures are held down tightly!”

Field Update – 2/17/20

Statewide

Dr. Matt Cutulle reports, “Love is in the air, and your crabgrass (Digitaria spp.) PRE herbicides should be on the ground if you are in the Low Country.  When soil temperatures reach 55 F for 2 to 3 days, which will usually occur before March 1st in the Low Country, March 15th in the Midlands and March 30th for the upstate crabgrass germination is possible and can continue throughout the spring and summer. No matter how well crabgrass has been controlled in previous years, there is still a tremendous seed bank in the soil and open spots in crop canopy will allow this fast-growing summer annual to invade. Crabgrass’ rapid emergence and extremely fast growth rate make it a problematic weed in early spring to summer.  One study by NC State showed that for every week large crabgrass emergence was delayed an increase in 373 watermelon fruit was observed. This relatively small grassy weed can cause a big problem in early season cucurbit crop plantings.”

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Crabgrass seedlings. Photo from Virginia Tech

 

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “A wet week is coming to the Lowcountry.  Most farms are discing up land and pressing beds in preparation for the season.  I saw some potatoes going in last week on a farm or two.  If you have strawberries and have started spraying, then keep spraying.  Protectant fungicides applied before a weather event are the best measure at preventing disease.  The weather coming is perfect for gray mold and Anthracnose to develop.  If you have a smartphone download the MYIPM app (make sure to use WiFi) to key you in on diseases and preventative measures for small fruits.

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Land being prepped for spring vegetables. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “More rain on the horizon.  Lots of collards are bolting and fall brassicas, in general, are wrapping up.  Some spring brassicas have already been planted.  Black rot is showing up in some fields following the storms and warm weather, so if, you’re done with a field, get rid of it!  It never got cold enough Friday to kill strawberry blooms, but lots of growers had their row covers on just in case.  Growers are protecting blooms from now on. This will have us picking around mid-March.  Make sure to sanitize the fields as soon as it stops raining and it’s safe to pull off the row covers and start your fungicide programs and fertigation now.

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Black rot showing up in collards after the recent storms.  Photo from Justin Ballew.

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Workers busy putting row covers on strawberries.  Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Bruce McClean reports, “We have been on a bit of a roller coaster for the last couple of weeks… warm temps separated by brief periods of cool, windy conditions. The cool weather has not been that severe or persistent, and the warmer weather has been much more dominant. This has caused crops like blueberries and strawberries to really start to push. Heavy flowering in both crops is very evident now. With strawberries, we’re not too worried about losing early blooms… the plant will make more. But with blueberries, persistent early warm temps can ruin the upcoming season’s crop quickly. Some growers have asked about frost protecting this early. The challenge is “do you have enough water to protect until all risk of frost is gone”… likely not. The only thing worse than losing a crop because you didn’t frost protect is frost protecting all winter only to run out of water on the last night of freezing temps. Try to assess how much water supply you have and try to make decisions based on that. If you need help, please reach out to Clemson Extension for assistance.

Some chores to be doing now – finish up pruning your vineyards and orchards over the next week, or so. Look closely for dead wood in your vineyard, especially on the cordons. Now is the best time to identify it and remove it. Also, if you are planning to do some hardwood propagation on blueberries, now is the time to select one-year-old canes for cuttings. Be sure to keep them bagged (with moist peat moss or pine bark) and refrigerated until you are ready to sprig in the spring.

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Unhealthy muscadine condon that needs to be pruned out. Photo from Bruce McLean

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Hardwood blueberry cutting. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “Farmers wish the rain would stop so they can get greens planted.  One way to keep plants from growing too tall in the greenhouse is blowing with a leaf blower every day it will harden them off and cause them to be shorter.  Time to bed sweet potatoes for slips if not to wet.  If you’ve started to save/protect strawberries, blueberries, peaches, etc. (some already in full bloom) get ready for Friday night.

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.