Field Update – 7/13/20

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “Summer crops are all but about done. The afternoon thunderstorms, humidity, and heat have just about finished off the tomato and watermelon crops. Growers are getting fields ready for the fall season now. Consider putting up deer fencing now before crops are planted.

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A field of squash on Johns Island protected with a two-tiered poly fence. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We got some more rain early in the week and the sky was overcast most of the week. Downy mildew finally showed up here in cucumbers. Even though it’s been found all over the coast, it took a while to make it this far inland this year. The dry weather we had most of the month of June may have had something to do with that. Anyone growing cucurbits from now through the fall definitely needs to be applying preventative fungicides. Lots of fields are transitioning from spring crops to fall crops right now. We’re still picking sweet corn, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, zucchini, cucumbers, etc.”

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Dark-colored downy mildew spores on the underside of a cucumber leaf. Photo from Justin Ballew

Lalo Toledo reports, “Sweet potatoes are in the ground and thriving. Please be aware of any pest activity and disease activity. Weeds are becoming a problem, especially in organic operations. However, there are several options to suppress weeds. Please contact your extension agent for information on chemical and cultural practices. Hemp is having trouble taking off with so much heat and weeds are gaining ground on it. Peppers are doing great with some minor bacterial lesions.”

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Hemp field with nutgrass (organic operation). Photo from Lalo Toledo.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Poured rain every day last week – awful.  Processing peas are ready to harvest but cannot get a dry period to burn down to harvest.  Need to get second crop processing peas planted before August if fields will ever dry out – don’t forget to control thrips early and do your best to keep deer out of fields.  Processing tomatoes & peppers are being harvested.  Pickling cucumbers are continually being harvested and replanted.  Sweet potatoes are planted, most have been laid-by, many have vines covering beds, and some are starting to size potatoes.  We may have some insect damage on roots since it is difficult to get bifenthrin applied and plowed-in.  Hopefully, the Lorsban will control insects, and since it is too wet to plow until the rain can wash the bifenthrin into the soil to keep the sun from degrading it.  Don’t forget the boron on sweet potatoes.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Peaches are the showstopper this week in the Upstate! Even with what appears to be late cold damage causing split pits and some varieties not to ripen, the peach crop is still booming. Apples are maturing on schedule and growers should begin harvesting early varieties over the next few weeks. With limited and spotty rain events over the last seven days, irrigation has been vital for vegetable producers…. but heat and humidity (despite the overall lack of rain) has increased the need for fungicide cover sprays, as we’ve seen various fungal activity picking up across the board.”

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Peaches are coming in and are looking great in the upstate. Photo from Kerrie Roach.

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.

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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 – 10/28/19

Coastal Region

Zack Snipes reports, “Strawberries have been planted in the Lowcountry. Some rain throughout the week has really helped them take. Already seeing deer tracks in fields without fencing. I scouted a few fields and found enough juvenile spider mites to warrant a spray. We need to stay on top of the mites this season. Please scout your fields and take necessary measures to manage them.”

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Strawberry transplants are getting established. Photo from Zack Snipes.

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Deer tracks show that deer are already browsing in strawberry fields. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We had a few showers come through the midlands last week. Strawberry planting has wrapped up and the young transplants are getting established well so far, as we’ve had pretty favorable weather lately. Fall brassicas are looking great and worm pressure is still a little below average. Fall crops of cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, green onions, eggplant, squash and zucchini are still being harvested.”

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Broccoli head developing well. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee Region

Bruce McLean reports, “Brassica (cabbage, collards, turnips, broccoli, etc.) and strawberry planting has finished. The crops look very good. Okra and squash will finishing up soon. Downy mildew is still a challenge on squash. Brassica insect pressure has been relatively light, except for aphids which have been moderate in limited locations. Continue to scout regularly.”

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Cabbage looper feeding on a cauliflower leaf. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports seeing lots of worms and moths. “I have seen sweet potatoes stripped by stripped armyworms, armyworms, loopers and velvetbean caterpilars in greens, and millions of corn earworm moths in peas.  Also false chinch bugs are loving the turnips, kale, and mustard.  Strawberries are getting established. ”

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Worms of all kinds are wreaking havoc in the Pee Dee.  Photo from Tony Melton.

Field Update – 10/21/19

Coastal Region

Zack Snipes reports, “A few rain showers and some cooler temperatures have really helped out our fall crops.  Collards, kale, and broccoli have really perked up this week and some early stuff could possibly be cut this week. Our worm pressure has not been terrible this year but that does not mean you can take a week off of scouting.  Strawberries have gone in throughout the Lowcountry and are looking great after some cooler temperatures and rain. If you have not put up your deer fencing for strawberries, get it out ASAP.  Each plant can be worth around $3, so one night of feeding can really cut into your bottom line.”

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Brassicas have really perked up in the lowcountry. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We got some much needed rain this past week thanks in part to Tropical Storm Nestor. This has our fall brassicas growing fast and looking great. We’re still seeing some whiteflies in brassicas, but the caterpillar numbers are a little lower for the time being.  Lots of strawberries were planted last week and they are developing well so far. The rain and cooler weather has really been helpful in getting them established. Strawberry planting will finish up this week for the folks planting larger acreages.”

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Collards are looking great after the rain and cooler weather.  Photo from Justin Ballew.

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Strawberry transplants that were set last week are already pushing out new leaves. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Cooler temperatures and much needed rain are giving a boost to fall crops including collards, cabbage and broccoli. Bell peppers, tomatoes, squash, broccoli, sweet potatoes are still being harvested as well as hemp. Strawberry plants have been going in over the past couple of weeks.

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Strawberry transplants set a few days ago. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee Region

Bruce McLean reports, “The recent rain from the remnants of Tropical Storm Nestor helped to improve dry soil conditions in the Pee Dee. This beneficial moisture should help the remaining cucurbit crops (yellow squash, zucchini, and cucumbers) and the okra crop through the final few weeks of the season. Planting of brassicas (collards, cabbage, kale, broccoli, etc.) and spinach are finished. Strawberry planting should be finished in the next week. Worm damage on brassicas has been light, but aphids have been plentiful in isolated locations. Be sure to scout your fall crops regularly.”

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Okra crop is really starting to slow down, but quality is still good. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “Still in the middle of harvesting processing sweet potatoes – not enough rain to size them up earlier, now having to wait for soil to dry and more rain is coming.  Bacterial disease on turnips bad this year (maybe because of the heat), losing about 1/3 of yield because we’re having to harvest early.  Also, reduced stand on greens from the beginning because of the excessive heat at planting.  Also, bacterial soft rot is bad in the heat where irrigation and harvest equipment has spread through the fields.  A lot of moths (Hawaiian webworm) flying in fields. We’re spraying once, which is more than usual (with Coragen and similar products) to keep larvae out of greens.  Last of the pickling cucumbers are being harvested this week.”

Upstate

 Mark Arena reports early harvest of pecans may begin soon. “Here are some tips for pecan management for the month of October. Prepare for harvest by mowing the orchard floor and keep it free of limbs and other debris. Maintain adequate soil moisture. Treat all “mouse ear” nickel deficiency noticed. Lime, zinc, phosphorus and magnesium can be applied if deficient. Scout and treat aphids, mites and pecan weevils as necessary. Apply preventative fungicides as scheduled and be aware of pre-harvest intervals for all chemicals applied.”

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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