Weekly Field Update – 2/8/21

Don’t forget to check out the Upcoming Meetings page for all the meetings coming up over the next couple months. There are 3 coming up this week: Small Fruits this evening (2/8), Peaches on Thursday afternoon (2/11), and Brassicas Thursday evening (2/11).  We hope to see you there!

Statewide

Dr. Matt Cutulle reports, “With the cold temperatures we have been consistently having, it might be good to use Prefar or Dacthal for PRE herbicides instead of Treflan in new collard plantings to avoid injury.”

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Last week was pretty cool and it looks like this week will be about the same. Things are a little slow in the fields, but folks are preparing land for spring plantings and harvesting a little mustard, collards, and herbs. Strawberry growers are still working on sanitizing. Now is also a good time to make sure drip systems are hooked up and ready to go when it’s time to start fertigating. Deer are still wearing out the plants in some fields. Temporary deer fences aren’t that expensive and they can pay for themselves by preventing the degree of damage seen in the photo below.”

This picture was taken last Thursday (2/4). After 3 and a half months in the ground, these plants should be significantly larger, but the deer are wearing them out. A fence should have been used here. Photo from Justin Ballew.
Busted feeding on strawberry leaves. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Upstate

Andy Rollins reports, “We are still in the middle of establishing new peach orchards and inspecting strawberry plantings. I met with new and experienced growers and want to point out most common mistake made. Strawberry wise, I found mites on only one farm growing chandler plugs. Some of the mites were still in diapause (hibernation) and will be orangish in color but there were plenty of active adults and eggs out as well on that farm. Expensive miticides are not effective if mites are not present. The most common mistake made in planting peaches is planting them too deep. To look at the picture below, you wouldn’t think anything was wrong, but the first main root is actually about 4 inches too deep. Please make sure when you are finished planting that the first main root is within the top inch of the soil. An easy way to tell they are too deep is if they have created a hole around the stem from wind movement. Anywhere you are growing in heavier clay soil this becomes even more important. We are still spraying oil and copper on peaches and probably will continue till bloom.

This peach tree was planted about 4 inches too deep. Photo from Andy Rollins.
If trees are planted too deep they will create a hole in the soil around them as they move in the wind. Photo from Andy Rollins.

Weekly Field Update – 1/25/21

Don’t forget to check out the Upcoming Events page for all the meetings coming up over the next couple months. The next one is this Wednesday evening (1/27/21) from 6 to 8:30 and will be about tomato and pepper production. We hope to see you there!

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “Strawberry crops in the area are looking good with good crown development. We are seeing open flowers and some fruit set based on warmer conditions. These crops are cause for some concern as we are likely to see damage from forecast cold snaps. There is evidence of botrytis (gray mold) in crops on cold damaged flowers and fruit. Sanitation can really help to mitigate the spread of the disease. Spider mites remain active and in places are requiring treatment. Remember to avoid pyrethroids for mite control as these can flare mite populations.”

Zack Snipes reports, “The three components of the disease triangle are a conducive environment, the host plant present, and a virulent pathogen.  With that being said; It has been pretty wet as of late, we have warmer weather coming this week, and I have seen pathogens in our fields.  I fully expect some diseases to really take hold and start to spread this week.  For strawberries, make sure to clean dead tissue (leaves, blooms, fruit, etc) and for other crops removal of dead tissue and a preventative fungicide application (conventional or organic) can really help you get ahead of the fight against diseases.  Also, my pet peeve…get your deer fences up!!!! This is the time of year that deer run out of food (and corn piles) and will meander into your strawberries and eat thousands of dollars’ worth of profits.”

The two-tiered fencing system, like the one shown in this trail cam photo, will keep curious deer out of your fields. Deer Fencing.  Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “This past week was a little warmer and more sunny, but not by much. Crops are still growing slowly as a result. I’m seeing a lot of deer damage in strawberry fields that boarder the woods. Nothing reduces yield potential in strawberries faster than deer. Once they start nibbling leaves off, those plants will always be behind and they’ll never yield the same as a healthy, undamaged plant. Keep in mind that wildlife in the field is also a significant food safety risk. Once we get into bloom, this will become a major concern. Fencing is the most effective means of keeping deer out of the field. Fencing doesn’t have to be expensive or permanent. Check out this publication.”

Look at all those stems where leaves used to be. The deer have set these plants way back and they will never catch up. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “New plantings of peach trees are going in along the Ridge. A weather station went up in Johnston at one of our variety trials this past fall and we are watching to see chilling hours accumulated. Currently we are at 714 chill hours and 43 chill portions looking at temperatures between 32 and 45 degrees. The upstate at the Musser location is sitting at 773 chill hours and 46 chill portions. It’s looking like we will have no problem meeting all of our chilling requirements for the season.”

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “I keep finding more strawberry fields with spidermites.  Some fields are damaged or devastated by deer.  If you ever let deer get a taste of strawberry plants it is very difficult or almost impossible to stop them.”

Upstate

Andy Rollins reports, “Strawberry plants are doing well in the upstate of SC. Some plants are smaller than others mainly due to planting time. Growers need to look for uneven growth with in a field which can be indication of root rot. Also, some growers are spraying Rovral because of early dead blooms producing excessively high amounts grey mold. Some are using it with Captan others with Thiram. Thiram would give some deer deterrence. Growers need to be very careful with covers this time of year. They can force even more unwanted early blooms. Remember 18 degrees hurts crown 30 degrees kill blooms. So we are still in the protect plant time, not the protect bloom time. There are several farms planting peach trees now and still others finishing ground preparations. We also have a new pecan farm whose trees I was able to inspect and help with last minute details before planting this week. I hope and pray all of you stay safe amid the Covid19 pressure around us. The loss of a farming friend and leader of men, Mr. Ervin Lineberger will be greatly missed.”

Strawberries are looking good in the Upstate. Photo from Andy Rollins.
Strawberries are looking good in the upstate. Photo from Andy Rollins.

Field Update – 4/13/20

All of SC is now under a “Home or Work” order from Governor McMaster. Farming is an essential industry, so Commissioner Weathers has issued this Notice of Essential Food and Agricultural Employee form that farms may fill out for each employee certifying them as an essential employee. Employees should keep this form with them while commuting to and from work.

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “We had a great week of weather last week in the Lowcountry.  I am extremely concerned and curious to see what things look like after the powerful line of storms we had Monday morning.  I feel like we will see lots of damage to taller crops and in areas where there were no windbreaks.  If plants suffered in the storm and have open wounds from sand, wind, or tying twine, then expect to see more disease.  It would be a great time to get out some fungicides and bactericides to prevent spreading of diseases.  As of Friday, our crops looked great.  I have been seeing LOTS of damage by our biggest pest in the Lowcounty…DEER.  Fencing is cheap compared to the amount of money you are losing to browsing damage. Check out this publication on fencing.

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A deer browsed tomato (left) and un-browsed tomato (right).  Photo from Zack Snipes.

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When browsing occurs, other competitors such as nutgrass take hold further impacting yield. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “The weather was nice last week and crops really responded. Brassicas and sweet corn are both growing really fast. Strawberry production really picked up last week too. Luckily, sales at produce stands have been really good lately. We had a really strong storm come through early Monday morning and we expect to see some water damaged strawberries as a result and probably some diseases like black rot on brassicas.  Strawberry growers, be sure to sanitize the plants well so damaged fruit won’t become inoculum for Botrytis and anthracnose.

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Workers at James Sease Farms in Gilbert grading strawberries fresh from the field. Strawberry season is in full swing. Support your local farmers!  Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “The peach crop is coming along nicely. Some high chill hour requiring varieties are developing at an uneven rate but only time will tell if there will be a good crop on those. Strawberry production is picking up. A couple of cooler nighttime temperatures may have slowed progression a bit but harvests are still on the rise. Field crops like spinach, kale, and broccoli are performing well. Some cucurbits being planted as well as tomatoes as labor needs are filled.

Monilinia fructicola

Blossom blight caused by the fungi, Monilinia fructicola. Extended bloom and lots of rain during winter months made ideal conditions for infection. Refer to the 2020 Peach Management Guide for information on treating and preventing spread of brown rot. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Awful infestation of early season diamondback caterpillar on brassicas like collards/cabbage most likely due to the overwintering on brassicas like radish in cover crops.  When these crops are terminated for summer cropping these insects and other insects like yellow-margined beetle invade vegetable production fields.  Also, cover crops containing brassicas should not be used in vegetable production fields because they increase diseases like bacterial soft rot and sclerotinia, which are tremendous problems in all types of vegetable crops.

I hope all strawberry growers got their ripe fruit out of their fields before this storm – if not a lot of fruit will most likely be discarded.  Some rain was needed hope not too much falls – in S.C. when it rains it pours.  Most summer crops are planted and we did get some wind damage and sandblasting causing stunting but no frost damage in the Pee Dee.  The first plantings of processing tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers are in and after this rain more will be quickly following.  Spring brassicas are loving this rain.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “It was confirmed that a tornado touched down in Seneca, SC early this morning around 3:30am. Reports of damage to agricultural operations have been limited, but there is certainly significant damage to business and residential structures. Apple and peach crops are looking good right now. We have many farmers market operations who will be replanting/reseeding after last night’s heavy rains.”

Andy Rollins reports, “We have been trapping high numbers of Oriental Fruit Moths in pheromone traps in peach orchards in upstate SC weekly.  Numbers have been much higher in our late season varieties.  We are assisting growers with correct timing of spray applications directed at egg hatch.  We are also encouraging growers to rotate insecticide classes to prevent failure of the pyrethroids if this hasn’t already occurred.  Dr. Brett Blaauw UGA/Clemson peach entomologist has been directing the effort aimed at reducing damage from this pest.”

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Oriental fruit moths captured on a sticky trap. Photo from Andy Rollins.

Field Update – 10/14/19

Statewide

Dr. Tony Keinath reports, “A new technical bulletin published online by Clemson University’s Land-Grant Press will help watermelon growers choose tactics to manage Fusarium  wilt. Options include partially resistant varieties, delaying transplanting until soil has warmed, grafting, applying fungicides at transplanting, and winter cover cropping with vetch.  See: Keinath AP. Integrated Management for Fusarium Wilt of Watermelon. Land-Grant Press by Clemson Extension. 2019; LGP 1022.

Coastal Region

Zack Snipes reports, “Strawberries are going in or will be going in very shortly here in the Lowcountry.  I want to remind everyone how important it is that deer fencing is put up.  Ideally the fencing should be put up BEFORE the strawberries go in the ground.  I see hundreds of plants each year destroyed by deer.  Assuming the value of that plant is around $3 (1.5 lbs berries per plant and $2 lb), it doesn’t take losing a lot of plants to really feel the financial loss. Please read an article I wrote about setting up and maintaining an inexpensive deer fence here.

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Deer feeding damage can cause significant yield loses to strawberries.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “The weather felt more like fall this past week, but still no significant rain.  The very first strawberries have been planted in the midlands with a lot more planting expected this week.  The first plants were set just before the weather cooled down and the heat really took a toll on them.  95 degrees just isn’t good for strawberry transplants.  The current weather should be much more favorable for planting.  Be sure to set plants at the proper depth and overhead water transplants adequately.  Take a look at this Strawberry Growers Checklist for some good tips for fall strawberry management.”

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The 95 degree heat really took a toll on these strawberry plugs.  Photo from Justin Ballew