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!”

Weekly Field Update – 10/5/20

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “The cooler weather and lots of rain have brought out the diseases. I saw some watermelon diseases last week including gummy stem blight. We need to protect our foliage just a few more weeks to finish off those melons so keep at the spray programs if you can.  Whiteflies continue to hammer us in all crops this fall. Strawberry planting is just about upon us. Rains and wet ground have slowed some farms from laying plastic. Remember that preplant fertility and herbicides are critical to spring success. Spartan and Devrinol  are the only two preplant herbicide options this late in the season. Other products require a 30-day wait period. Let me know if you want me to come check your strawberry plugs before you plant them.”

Gummy stem blight on watermelon foliage. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Rob Last reports, “Fall crops are looking good in this area with good development in brassicas and beets.  Insect and disease activity remain moderate however with cooler weathers and rainfall scouting will be critical to success for these crops.  Adult moths are very active at present so be on the lookout for eggs and caterpillars. Plastic is down and awaiting strawberry planting in the next week.”

Growers are ready for strawberry planting. Photo from Rob Last.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “The weather has been pretty fall-like and enjoyable over the last week. The cooler temperatures and high amounts of recent moisture have diseases like powdery mildew, downy mildew, and anthracnose increasing. Caterpillar activity has increased in the last week as well. Be sure to rotate modes of action when spraying for caterpillars. Strawberry growers are ready to plant and will probably start within the next week.”

Powdery mildew has been picking up on fall cucurbit crops. Photo from Justin Ballew.
Adult diamondback moth that just finished pupating on a collard leaf. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Daytime temperatures have been mild with cooler night temps. Early last week areas saw anywhere from trace amounts to 2 inches of rain. Low spots in fields may remain wet and this could lead to potential problems.  Peppers are looking good as well as eggplant and late squash. Brassica crops are having some issues with aphids causing leaf curling.  Pecans are beginning to fall as well. Scab seems to be particularly bad this year,  most likely because of wet weather during critical spray times for fungal management in late June and July. 

Pecan scab has been rough this season. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Greens are growing fast with cool temperatures; however, beans, peas, pickles, and sweet potatoes have slowed down with these temperatures.  Most sweet potatoes need to find a home.  We are using a lot of potassium phosphide to keep down root rot especially on greens.  Most growers also use it as a dip for strawberries transplants or put through drip system as soon as they plant.  Getting ready to plant strawberries as soon as the transplants get here.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Clear skies since Tuesday with cool fall temperatures at night and warm days has consumers looking for all things fall. Growers with pumpkins, gourds, mums, corns stalks, and/or anything fall related have been busy keeping up with demand. Agritourism demand/opportunities has picked up significantly in the last few weeks. Apples are in peak season with Stayman being one of the current varieties available.”

Andy Rollins reports, “Upstate peaches are finished up for the year but muscadines are still being harvested although slowing some and strawberry planting is in full swing. I was called to examine poorly growing peach trees at an upstate farm. The majority of trees were dying from the most devastating disease of peach ‘Oak Root Rot.’  There was gumming at the base and I was fully expecting a greater peach tree borer problem but closer examination and cutting of the below ground bark revealed the Oak Root Rot fungus growing at the base of the trees.  When pushing your older peach trees up be sure to examine the main roots for the sign of this disease which is the white to yellowish fungal growth deep inside of the bark below the soil level.  There are a few other fungi that can have a similar symptom but they tend to grow just on dead tissue and don’t grow as deep into the wood of the tree.  There are some things you can do about it, but proper identification comes first.”

Gumming and yellowish white fungal growth at the base of a peach tree from oak root rot. Photo from Andy Rollins.
Poor tree growth as the result of oak root rot. Photo from Andy Rollins.

Weekly Field Update – 8/31/20

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “We had between 4-6 inches of rain last week with daily thunderstorms.  Growers are working the fields getting ready for the fall crops to go in.  If it happens to rain on Wednesday night, then you should tune in to our Strawberry 101 class from 6-8PM.  We will be discussing economics, seasonal timeline, varieties and common mistakes, and fertility.  This is an excellent opportunity to learn about growing strawberries.  You must register ahead of time to participate.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “After some rain early in the week, the weather turned dry and the temperatures and humidity reminded us that summer isn’t over yet. Fall crops are continuing to progress well, though we are continuing to see a fair amount of disease like anthracnose, downy mildew, and bacterial spot due to the recent wet conditions. Caterpillar populations are climbing on fall brassicas as well. In scouting a field trial, I observed diamondback moths, cabbage loopers, and armyworms. Keep a close eye out and be sure to rotate chemistries when you start spraying.”

Anthracnose spots on a cantaloupe leaf. Photo from Justin Ballew.
Cabbage looper on a collard leaf. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Peach season has wrapped up in the Ridge and post- harvest fertilizer applications are being applied. Fall vegetable crops are looking good as we received some decent rain fall over the past week. Hot temperatures have had some effect on lower seed germination of some brassicas.”

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Harvest time is finally upon us. Sunshine and warm temperatures is doing the trick for giving growers that final push for ripening the muscadine crop. Crop is looking good, but some bitter rot and ripe rot is starting to show. Brix for Carlos and Noble is averaging around 13.5%. Doreen is still a little ways from being ready to harvest, but it won’t be long.”

Grape harvester picking muscadines. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “So wet in areas it is hard to spray peas for curculio some are having to use airplanes.  Harvesting sweet potatoes for processing and yield is good.  Planting greens for processing.  Harvesting pickles but stopped planting this week.  Still harvesting processing peppers but harvesters are getting real tired.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Heavy rains, humidity and continued high temperatures over the last week have continued an increased trend in disease incidence across the board in both vegetables and fruits. Growers need to be proactive to stay ahead of diseases (and insects) by scouting often and well. We are finishing out the peach season with late varieties like ‘Big Red’. Apples are gaining steam and early varieties are looking and tasting great. Overall the production seems to be on target for a significant increase over last season.”

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 – 7/6/20

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “It was a warm week with some sprinkled in showers along the coast. All crops are coming in right now with heavy watermelon volume. What’s left of the tomato crop is ripening fast. As far as pests go, I have seen a good amount of bacterial leaf spot in pepper, squash bugs and cucumber beetles in squash, and spider mites on beans, tomato, and melon.”

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Squash bugs and their bronze eggs on a zucchini. Photo from Zack Snipes.

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Spider mite activity has increased with the warm weather and a missed spray or two.  Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We got a little more rain last week and the temperatures were a little warmer than previous weeks. We’re still harvesting tomatoes, sweet corn, peppers, eggplant, peaches, squash, zucchini, beans, etc. Since the environment has been warm and wet, we’re starting to see diseases pick up. Seeing lots of powdery mildew and anthracnose on cucurbits and bacterial spot on tomatoes. Stay on your fungicide programs and rotate modes of action as much as possible. I’ve also been getting some reports of heavy spider mite activity on tomatoes.”

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We are seeing lots of bacterial spot show up in tomatoes following the recent rain. Photo from Justin Ballew

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Spider mites generally feed on the lower side of tomato leaves and cause a stippling appearance. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “We’ve had hot and, for the most part, somewhat dry conditions in the past week. Some areas received an inch of rain but it was very spotty. Tomatoes, peppers, squash, corn, cucumbers, and melons are all being harvested now.  Plums, peaches, and nectarines are also still being picked. The peach crop is about 10 days ahead of schedule.”

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Peaches are looking good and coming in a little early. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Vegetable crops are maturing nicely, even though some are exhibiting heat stress from the recent hot weather. Cucurbit Downy Mildew (on cucumbers) has been reported throughout the Pee Dee Region. Powdery Mildew is widespread on zucchini and yellow squash. Sweet corn is looking good, with good volumes being produced. Tomatoes, other than being stressed from the heat and the humidity, look pretty good and are bearing well. Sweetpotatoes are still being planted. Muscadines are beginning to size and look to be a very good crop. Blueberries are winding down, with only the latest varieties being harvested now.”

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Tomato plant showing some stress from the heat and humidity of summer. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “Processing peppers and tomatoes are beginning to be harvested and they look good.  With all the early winds and excessive rain, it was difficult but as my daddy would say “we made a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.” Second and third crop pickles are yielding much better than the weather-beaten first crop. Processing peas will begin harvest this next week, so we badly need some dry weather but the forecast is not favorable.  Also, the amount of cowpea curculio is increasing rapidly and an intense/timely spray program is needed to prevent what most call “stings (maggots) in the peas.”  One grower got slack on his spray program and this week had to discard $6,000 worth of peas. Spray with a pyrethroid at or before the first flower, then every week until flowering is finished.  The first spray is the most important because if you wait too late, the curculios are already in the field.  Curculios are very hard to kill. When disturbed they ball-up inside their protective coat, and your spray is repelled. My program repels them and attempts to keep them out of the field. Also, rotation is very important to keep down the population of curculios surrounding your fields.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Upstate peaches are beginning to ripen! While exciting, we have seen some physiological issues with sizing and softening that we attribute back to a late-season cold spell. While the peaches originally appeared to pull through without damage, we are now seeing peaches that are not sizing and those that do size up, only ripen on the very outer portion. It is a waiting game to see how each variety ends the season. In the meantime, market vegetable production is in full swing and the apple crop is looking fabulous.”

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Some peaches in the upstate are not sizing up properly, probably due to the late cold spells in the spring. Photo from Kerrie Roach.

Field Update – 6/29/20

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “In our area crops are generally looking good with watermelons and cantaloupes coming to harvest.  From a pest perspective, we are finding some early pickleworm and melon worm damage occurring. In addition, cucumber beetles and squash bugs remain active. Cucurbit downy mildew is being found in the area and as such protectant fungicide applications remain viable options. If in doubt scout.”

Zack Snipes reports, “Last week was full of heavy rain and heat. It finally feels like June.  Crops are either going one of two ways right now:  they either look great or they are succumbing to disease. Tomatoes are picking great and I’ve seen some really nice watermelons finish up this week. Peppers are loving this heat but I have seen an uptick in bacterial leaf spot (BLS) in the crop. Keep up with spray programs (copper and Manzate) for BLS in pepper. Tomatoes are also starting to look rough with all the heat and rain. If your tomato crop dies, please identify the culprit so we can better manage it next year. Soilborne diseases such as bacterial wilt and southern blight will not go away next year. I will be more than happy to work with folks on crop planning, cover crops, and rotation on their farms so we can avoid crop failures.

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A quick cut of the stem of a wilting plant and a dip into water can help to positively identify Bacterial Wilt in tomato. The presence of the pathogen will yield a clear to white ooze coming from the plant after a few minutes in the water. Photo from Zack Snipes.

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Bacterial Leaf Spot is spreading in pepper due to the heavy rains and increased heat. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We finally got some widespread rain mid-week and it has rained in places most days since. Some areas received enough rain to cause temporary flooding in lower-lying fields. Remember, according to produce safety guidelines, any produce that was flooded may not be harvested. We should expect diseases to worsen in the coming weeks. Powdery mildew in cucurbits and bacterial spot in tomatoes has certainly increased in the past week. Crops are still developing very rapidly and we are picking lots of squash, zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplant, sweetcorn, greens, beans, etc.”

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This field of cucumbers was temporarily flooded by the heavy rain last week. Photo from Justin Ballew

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A crew picking squash in Lexington. Squash and zucchini are growing like wildfire in the midlands. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Raining almost every day some storms causing downed trees.   Root rot bad applying a lot of potassium phosphide. A few strawberry growers still picking around rains. Downy mildew bad but Ranman and Orondis are doing a good job of control. Peas are maturing and will not be too long until harvest. We need to hurry to get the second crop planted on the same land. Still planting sweet potatoes. Okra and tomatoes just started to bare. Southern stem blight is bad and we’re spraying Fontelis. Some first crop butterbeans are being harvested.”

Downy Mildew Found on Watermelon in SC

Downy mildew was found yesterday, June 17, 2020, in one watermelon field in Bamberg County, South Carolina. All growers should immediately spray watermelon with Ranman, Revus, or Gavel to protect their crops from downy mildew. In addition to direct yield loss, loss of vine cover can expose fruit to sunburn (when the sun comes out again). Growers who find downy mildew in a field should apply Orondis Ultra or Orondis Opti in a weekly rotation with Ranman or Gavel. For more information on downy mildew, see the updated Cucurbit Downy Mildew Management for 2020.

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Downy mildew symptoms on watermelon foliage. Photo from Dr. Tony Keinath.

Field Update – 6/8/20 (Downy Mildew Arrives in SC)

Statewide

Downy mildew was found in Charleston, SC late last week on cucumbers. This is the first confirmed report of the 2020 season. If not already doing so, all cucumber and canteloupe growers should begin applying protective fungicides to help prevent or manage downy mildew. Ranman tank-mixed with a protectant such as chlorothalonil, mancozeb, or Zampro is a good option for protecting plants prior to symptom development. For more info, see Dr. Tony Keinath’s CDM Management publication.

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Downy mildew symptoms on the top side of a cucumber leaf. Note that the spots are angular in shape and are delineated by the veins in the leaf. Photo from Justin Ballew.

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

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “It is a very busy time out in the fields. Every crop is coming in right now and folks are busting it to get crops out and keep the remaining crops healthy.  Keeping up with fertility, fungicide, insecticide, and herbicide programs can really help with the bottom line as now is when our crops need a little help. With the mild temperatures and cloudy, wet days last week, I saw some diseases appear and spread.  On tomato, I am finding increased bacterial spot that is starting to make plants turn yellow. This will cause a yield drag and the spots can be found on the fruit if the infection is not slowed down. Downy mildew was found in cucumber last week so be sure to be proactive and keep an eye out for that. I saw some other cucurbit diseases last week including gummy stem blight and Alternaria. The stink bug population has also increased in the past week or so with some damage showing up on tomato. Please refer to the 2020 Southeastern Crop Handbook for details on management programs for insects, diseases, and weeds.”

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Bacterial spot is increasing causing yellowing of the plants. Bacterial spot can reduce yields and develop spots on the fruit. Photo from Zack Snipes.

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Downy mildew found in cucumbers last week. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Last week was warmer and actually a little dry. Lots of irrigation has been running. Crops are progressing quickly. Strawberries are mostly done now. The silks on the earliest planted sweetcorn are browning and harvest isn’t far off. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, beans, and cucumbers are also progressing well. Downy mildew has been found in the state, so be sure to start preventative fungicide sprays on cucumbers.  Let us know if you’d like help scouting fields for downy.  Collards, cabbage, and kale are still being harvested and are looking good.”

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Silks are turning brown on the earliest sweet corn plantings. Photo from Justin Ballew.

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Tomatoes are developing well. It won’t be long before harvest starts. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Lalo Toledo reports, “Downy Mildew has been diagnosed in Charleston County. However, Downy Mildew has not been found in Orangeburg county.  Please be advised that it is a matter of time before we start seeing symptoms. Please refer to the vegetable handbook regarding fungicide applications. It’s recommended to stay on a Fungicide schedule and to apply protectants even before we start seeing symptoms. Bacterial Wilt on tomatoes is present in many fields in Orangeburg county. Please contact your local extension office for proper recommendations.”

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It’s only a matter of time before downy mildew shows up in cucurbits in Orangeburg County. Photo form Lalo Toledo.

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Field conditions really improved this past week. Cucumbers are being harvested in good volumes. Overall, quality is good. Downy mildew is starting to show up in cucumber fields that were affected by recent heavy rains. Squash and zucchini are beginning to be harvested, as well. Snap beans and southern peas are flowering heavily. Some acreage of snap beans were lost due to ponding caused by recent heavy rains. Many fields of sweet corn are tasseling well and beginning to silk. Watermelon, cantaloupe, and peppers are growing very well. Blueberry quality is beginning to improve. Much of the rain-damaged fruit has been removed. Currently, the blueberry crop looks good. Muscadine fruit set is good, but thrips and aphid activity is high, which could cause problems in yield. Scouting is necessary to determine pest presence and necessary insecticide application.”

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Downy mildew really showing up in rain-stressed fields. Photo from Bruce McLean.

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Snap beans affected by ponded water from recent heavy rains. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “Some areas got 10 inches of rain in one day. Hundreds of acres of beans and cucumbers are drowned. Cucurbit downy mildew is here on cucumbers. Weeds are awful.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “With heavy rains a few weeks ago, high humidity and heat this past week, we are seeing some disease problems pop up across the board… make sure you are following prevention practices that fit into your growing style. Conventional, organic, or somewhere in between, all growers should be managing disease through preventative measures. Crop rotation is arguably one of the most important strategies in an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program. If you’re a grower that hasn’t moved crops around within your site in years, now is that time!”

Andy Rollins reports finding black knot of plum. “Prune out these galled up branches as quickly as possible before they begin to sporulate. I also recommend sterilizing or at least sanitizing the pruners as much as is possible between cuts.  Treat with 2 lbs of Captan foliarly as soon as possible after pruning to try and keep those wounds free from other problems.  This problem can come in on the purchased trees, but can also come in from wild cherry trees or wild plum surrounding the orchard.  It is always a good thing to kill any and all wild cherry and plum trees directly adjacent to a commercial orchard.  Penn State has some good information here.”

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Black knot on plum branches should be pruned out before sporulation begins. Photo from Andy Rollins.

Field Update – 3/9/20

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “Finally we have a break from the rain!  I lost count of how many inches of rain we had.  In fields with clean ditches and water furrows, water drained off pretty quickly, however, some fields suffered from all the rain.  If your fields are wet, try to stay out of them until they dry.  One of the worst things that can happen is when fields are entered when wet and soggy, causing compaction issues in the soil.  I am seeing lots and lots of disease in strawberry and blueberry.  The cold weather a few weeks ago killed many developing fruit and blossoms leaving them vulnerable to fungal infection. With over a week of consistent rain/cloudy weather and mild temperatures, the fungal pathogens have exploded.  If you can get into your fruit fields then both protectant and systemic fungicides should be applied.

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Freeze damage on early blueberry varieties is a perfect place for fungal pathogens to attack. Photo from Zack Snipes.

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It will be a while before this field can be worked again.  Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We had lots of rain last week, but a very nice weekend and I saw the first bit of pollen on my windshield Saturday afternoon.  Despite the rain, spider mites are starting to build up in strawberries in several places, requiring treatment.  This is probably a result of having the row covers on for so long.  Conditions are still perfect for disease development and we are seeing lots of Botrytis as well as some anthracnose fruit rot.  More rain is coming this week, so be timely with fungicide applications and be sure to sanitize dead leaves, flowers, and fruit from the plants.  These become sources of inoculum as disease develops, so get that material out of the field.

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Two-spotted spider mites can appear red in the winter.  Leaving row covers on for long periods of time can create the perfect conditions for spider mites. Photo from Justin Ballew

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This strawberry has anthracnose spores (orange mass on the left) as well as Botrytis (grey mass) developing on it. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Fields are rapidly drying – hopefully, it doesn’t rain until later this week so we can finally get some greens planted. We have got some acres planted but there are thousands left to be planted.  Peaches are still up in the air.  Some varieties are totally lost but others are fine.  Growers are running wind machines and burning hay bales most nights to protect blooms from the cold.  Covering and watering to protect strawberries and some growers have been picking for weeks, though others want to wait until they have enough fruit to open. With all the rain, Botrytis is tough on strawberries. Some growers are spraying twice a week, while others are letting it go and will pick-off bad fruit with the good fruit and sell what they can.

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Last week was the annual ‘Upstate Fruit Grower Meeting’ in Oconee County. Extension Agent, Kerrie Roach, along with Extension specialists from Clemson and NC State presented on topics to more than 30 attendees. Topics covered included apple diseases, PGRs, peach disease management, insect & disease ID, fungicide resistance, blackberry PGR research, the MyIPM app. along with much more. Lots of great networking and conversations were had over lunch and continued after the meeting. The Upstate is looking forward to a great growing season!”

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Last week’s Upstate Fruit Grower Meeting was a success.  Photo from Cory Tanner.

Field Update – 3/2/20

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “The horticulture team got the opportunity to tour some really nice greenhouse/transplant providers last week.  One point I’d like to bring up is transplant quality.  Yes, quality transplants cost more upfront but healthy, quick-growing plants will help you recoup your investment.  I see lots and lots of subpar transplants going into fields that come from transplant providers with disease and insect issues from the start.  The plants will require more attention and cost more to fertilize and spray than healthy plants from the start.  We also got to see some grafted tomato and melon plants.  If you have been having trouble with a particular disease, cultivar, or area within your farm then grafted transplants may be an option for you.  I have seen several farms in the past few years switch to using grafted plants and they are loving the results.  Again they cost more but they are less likely to die with a full fruit load in late May.”

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Grafted tomatoes with the appropriate rootstock can help battle diseases such as bacterial wilt and southern blight. Photo from Zack Snipes.

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Mixed variety of very healthy and clean transplants ready to be picked up. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We had a little break in the rain over the weekend.  Hopefully, strawberry growers have taken advantage of that to sanitize the fields and get a fungicide application out.  Conditions have been perfect for Botrytis development (lots of moisture and temps in the 60’s) and we are seeing a ton of it.  The MyIPM app is a great resource for determining which fungicides to include in your rotation.  There are a few fruit out there that are ripening up, but they’re ugly and don’t taste great yet.  This will improve with time as long as pollination is good and we get some sunny days. Keep in mind it’s still very early in the season.  Start taking tissue samples now to make sure we get the fertigation right.”

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Botrytis growing on decaying tissue is plentiful right now.  It’s going to be a rough strawberry season if the rain doesn’t slow down.  Photo from Justin Ballew

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Misshaped fruit most likely caused by poor pollination.  Boron deficiency can cause this appearance also and would show up on a tissue sample.  Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Recent rains have caused a lot of erosion issues in orchards, especially those with trees planted on berms. With more heavy rain in this week’s forecast, farmers should focus on problem areas and consider erosion control methods such as coconut coir logs to help slow the movement of water through the orchard.  Peach trees are progressing quickly but it is still too early to make predictions about this year’s crop.”

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The recent rain has caused erosion issues in a number of orchards.  Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Farmers are hurrying to get greens/cabbage/collards planted before the rain this week.  Also, getting sweet potato beds in for transplant production.  Growers are fumigating fields for tomatoes, peppers, and other summer vegetables.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Last week several S.C. agents toured two different grafting/vegetable transplant production operations in WNC. Grafting can translate some great resistance/tolerance traits to otherwise susceptible varieties of tomatoes we commonly plant in small scale production. Check with your agent to see if grafted tomato plants might benefit your operation. Meanwhile, in the upstate, it didn’t rain for a few days and growers have finally been able to get into the field to prep and plant some early crops. Temperatures have been typical for this time of the year. Hang tight because more rain is forecasted for this week!

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Grafted tomatoes can be a good way to combat certain soil-borne diseases.  Be sure to get the correct resistance trait for the diseases you’re battling.  Photo from Kerrie Roach.