Weekly Field Update – 5/3/21

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “Botrytis (gray mold) is evident in places following rainfall. Sanitation and removal of the infected berries are critical to reducing inoculum loading. Fungicide applications will also be required to prevent spore germination and further spread of the disease. Where spider mite treatments have been applied, they have effectively reduced the populations but will still require scouting and monitoring.  Yields achieved are very good. Cucurbit crops continue to develop well with a low incidence of chill injury from the cooler temperatures observed on April 21/22. Crops are running well, with some flowering being observed. Cucumber beetles are being monitored, and a few aphids are present in places. Cucumber beetles observed are currently below the threshold of 5 beetles per plant. Squash bugs are also being found on some sites. Careful monitoring will be required because numbers can increase rapidly. Crops are free from disease; however, protectant fungicides are still a critical input. Blueberries are swelling well and beginning to blush.  Blackberries are flowering with excellent fruit set and bud formation. Spider mites have been evident in these crops too; however miticide applications are proving very effective.

Squash bugs are showing up in the coastal region. Photo from Rob Last.

Zack Snipes reports, “We had another nice week of weather in the Lowcountry. We are starting to dry out again so some rain would be nice. All of our crops look really great right now with no huge issues. The biggest issue I see right now is spider mites on all crops which makes sense with the warm dry weather. I’ve gotten a few calls about some strawberry plants putting out runners. We need to get in the fields and pinch those off while we are cleaning up dead berries, blossoms, and tissue. I have been in several vegetable fields lately and seen some inconsistencies in plant growth and vigor. Upon further inspection of some tomato and squash crops, I found galling on the roots which is an indicator of root-knot nematodes. If this is the case on your farm, pull up a few plants and look at the roots. We need to keep good notes on where these areas or fields are and practice good crop rotation for next season or use resistant cultivars. There are some cover crops that help with suppression as well. If you want to pull a soil sample to check for nematodes, give your local agent a call. We are doing a statewide survey looking for the guava root-knot nematode and can assist with sampling. In case you missed the “Update from the Tomato Fields” talk last Wednesday, here is the link.

Smaller squash plants in a large field made me question root-knot nematode damage.  Upon inspection of the roots, I found galling which is an indicator of nematode pressure. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “The weather last week was mild and it is very dry again. The inch of rain we got last weekend didn’t go very far. Strawberries are still yielding well, though in some fields, we’re starting to see berry size decrease, like we frequently see towards the end of picking. Folks had to remove water-damaged berries from their fields following the rain this past weekend. I guess the silver lining in this dry spell is we haven’t had many water-damaged berries yet this year. We’re still seeing some mites here and there, but disease pressure remains low. I found a berry last week with an anthracnose fruit rot lesion for the first time this season. So even though disease pressure is low, we still need to keep up with fungicide programs. There is some rain in the forecast for this week, so now would be a good time to throw in one of the site specific fungicides.”

Fungicides with the best efficacy on gray mold (left) and anthracnose (right) Photo from MyIPM app.
Cabbage with some cold damage from the cold a little over a week ago. Photo from Justin Ballew

Sarah Scott reports, “Along the Ridge, crews are still finishing up thinning in peach orchards to ensure good sizing on fruit. We are well into our summer cover spray programs for the season. During pit hardening it is critical to do preventative treatment for bacterial spot. Growers should be watching for plum circulio activity as well as scale crawlers in the next week as well. Sime powdery mildew has been found on foliage. Refer the the 2021 SE Peach, Nectarine, and Plum Management Guide for specific treatment recommendations. Strawberries are performing well. Some spider mite activity as well as some botrytis in the fields, which could worsen with several days of wet weather in the forecast. Transplanting of summer crops continues, including tomatoes and peppers. Curcurbits are becoming established and harvest will begin soon. 

Peach tree after thinning. Notice all of the green fruit on the ground surrounding it. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, and sweet potato slips are really growing since it has warmed up. Getting ready to sidedress and plow cucumbers. Fresh market cabbage will be ready to harvest soon. Processing collards are almost ready to harvest- some downy mildew has been seen. Asparagus suffered from excessive rains last year. Saw some sunscald and chemical burn on strawberries, so watch what products you are applying foliar, especially fertilizers. With the small amount of rain we had last week many acres of peas have been planted; however, it is awfully dry again.”

Weekly Field Update – 4/12/21

Statewide

Dr. Matt Cutulle reports, “I am starting to see some goosegrass popping due to soil temperatures being 65 F. Goosegrass will typically be problematic in more compacted areas of the field. In most broadleaf crops a Select or Poast post-emergent application will control emerged goosegrass. PRE herbicide options include Curbit and Dual Magnum (If crop is labeled). In rice it is important to remember that Quinclorac products will kill crabgrass but not goosegrass. The best rice product that will control goosegrass effectively in SC is Clincher.”

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “Crops are generally doing well in the area, with strawberries coming off with good volumes. On the whole, row covers or icing protected 97% of the susceptible flowers leading to 1-2% losses of flowers. The damaged flowers can increase grey mold pressure in the crops so, maintaining both sanitation and fungicide applications to strawberries will be crucial. As berries ripen, sanitation also becomes essential for reducing pest pressure from sap beetles. In some crops, where row covers were utilized, we see spider mite populations increasing and a few active thrips feeding on both flowers and berries. Other fruit crops in the area, such as blackberries and blueberries, look very good with low levels of damage from the freeze event last weekend. Peaches in the area are being thinned, with scouting being maintained for scale and plum curculio. Early planted watermelons did suffer from the frost in places, leading to 10-15% plant loss and hence the need to replant in a few areas. Other crops are moving slowly away from the injuries. Luckily a lot of crops were not beginning to vine and survived the worst of the damage. These plants are stressed, so care will be needed with any applications as well as scouting for pest and disease issues. Conversely, Cantaloupes in the area were direct seeded and have survived unscathed.”

Zack Snipes reports, “I was out and about last week as things are moving rather quickly in the fields. Spider mites are alive and active in every strawberry patch that I was in last week. You will see the translucent mite with 2 distinct spots as well as a reddish colored mite. The reddish colored mite is actually a two-spotted spider mite. We see this red form early in the season. Get out and scout as the weather is perfect for them. I am also seeing strawberry plants wilting down and dying. If you cut the crown you will see a brown/red rot in the center of the crown. Send these plants off for diagnosis. Most of what I have seen has been Phytophthora. We lost some cucurbit crops to the frost last weekend but some areas had no damage at all or slight damage. For some positive news, we are cutting some beautiful broccoli right now.”

Lower lying areas of fields or areas where the drip tape was nicked is where I am seeing some root rot issues. Photo from Zack Snipes.
Cutting the crown of wilting strawberry plants can help detect the pathogen responsible.  Sending off to the lab is the only way to get a 100% diagnosis of the problem. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Strawberry picking started on a wider scale this past week. This conveniently coincided with spring break for a lot of the public schools in our area, so U-pick operations have been busy. The weather was very mild last week, so everything is looking great. Spider mite and grey mold activity seems to be very low. There are a few thrips in certain places, so that’s something we need to keep an eye on. Brassicas are growing well. Caterpillar populations are still pretty low in most spring planted crops. There was a little injury to sweet corn from the recent frosts, but we expect the plants to grow out of it. Sweet corn’s growing point is underground until the 6 leaf stage. Since pretty much all the sweet corn was at the 3 leaf stage or younger, the growing points were protected and the damage is just superficial.”

Strawberry season has finally arrived in the Midlands. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “We are still assessing peach crop damage from freeze events happening between 4/1 and 4/3. It looks like anywhere from 1/4 to 1/3 of fruitlets were damaged by the cold event but with no additional damage we should still be on track for a good crop this year.  Strawberries were delayed a bit from the cold but are recovering nicely. Planting continues for crops like kale and other spring greens.”

Peach fruitlets at shuck off. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Strawberries are really starting to come off. The quality is very good, and the plants are in good health. Disease is relatively low and spider mite activity is moderate. Damage was minimal from the freeze before Easter. We did see some damage on blueberries, though. Blueberries without frost protection (in especially cold locations) did see some significant injury to both early southern highbush and early rabbiteye cultivars. Injury of 80% was observed in Star and O’Neal (southern highbush) and Premier (rabbiteye). Blueberries with frost protection fared much better. This shows the importance of having well-designed frost protection if you are going to grow early-blooming cultivars. Muscadines, being at budbreak, did not show any significant injury. Farmers are taking advantage of this absolutely beautiful weather to plant vegetables. Sweet corn, peas, butterbeans, cucumbers, squash, melons, tomatoes, etc. are going in the ground as fast as they can. Blueberries are being planted now too.

Black and brown seed and tissue within the berry shows that the fruit was injured from the freeze and will not develop. Photo from Bruce McLean.
Damage to early fruitlets on rabbiteye blueberry. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “Most strawberries are doing well and really starting to produce a lot of fruit. Cabbage is starting to head and is growing well. Brassica growers are applying products for diamondback moth and Sclerotinia. Some pickles are emerging and many acres will be planted this week. Some butterbeans are up and more are being planted. We will start to planting peas this week. Cool temperatures slowed sweetpotato slip growth a little, but most beds are covered with slips. Collards, turnips, and kale are growing fast. Hundreds of acres of tomatoes and peppers are already planted. A few acres of watermelons and cantaloupes are planted, but our main market is after the 4th of July.”

Are Hydrogen Peroxide Products Effective Fungicides?

From Clemson Plant Pathologist Dr. Tony Keinath.

Should products with hydrogen peroxide, alone or combined with peroxyacetic acid, be used like fungicides on vegetables? It’s difficult to give just one answer to this question because there are so many different vegetables and diseases to consider. Here are a few important things to think about.

  1. Hydrogen peroxide/peroxyacetic acid has no curative activity against any vegetable disease. Yes, it might look reassuring to see the dead centers drop out of leaf spots on tomato. The pathogen, however, is still in the leaf, where pathogens are naturally designed to live. All leaf pathogens—bacteria, fungi, and water molds—will survive inside the treated leaves.
  2. Hydrogen peroxide/peroxyacetic acid has no (or a very short) residual activity or “staying power” on leaves after spraying. Conventional fungicides usually will last up to the minimum spray interval on the label, normally 7 days. Biofungicides also leave a residue on the leaves for at least a few days after spraying; there hasn’t been as much research on this as on conventional fungicides. The fact that labels like Oxidate recommend two applications per week suggests that the residue lasts no more than 3 days.
  3. Oxidate did not control powdery mildew on cucurbit seedlings in the greenhouse. (Details available at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cropro.2012.06.009). There was absolutely no effect in any of four experiments. Unlike other fungi, powdery mildew grows mostly on the outside of the leaf, so it was completely exposed to Oxidate.
  4. The number of sprays per week needs to be considered when calculating the cost of hydrogen peroxide/peroxyacetic acid products. At $35/gallon and 1% solution, Oxidate costs $35/acre when sprayed twice a week at 50 gpa spray volume each time.

I recently tested Oxidate on kale affected with Alternaria leaf spot caused by the new species in South Carolina, Alternaria japonica. Oxidate (1%) was applied 2 days before harvest. Healthy leaves with no visible leaf spots were placed in sealed plastic bags with 100% relative humidity (RH) and stored at 41 F. for 1 week, then checked for disease symptoms. Based on two tests, 70% of Oxidate-treated leaves had Alternaria leaf spot, and 73% of water-treated control leaves did. That’s only a 5% improvement, and the difference is not statistically significant. Based on a kale price of $18/carton and 400 cartons/acre (for a once-over harvest), that’s an extra $359/acre.

Alternaria leaf spots that appeared a week after this kale was harvested and stored at proper storage temperatures. Photo from Dr. Tony Keinath

Oxidate might have some benefits sprayed immediately before harvest. After harvest, leaves aren’t exposed to more pathogen spores from the air, so the short residual time (hours) isn’t as limiting. Storing produce at less than 100% RH also might have made a difference with less disease overall.

For more information on Oxidate and vegetable diseases, see this list of trials with biofungicides approved for organic use with brief comments on efficacy: https://rvpadmin.cce.cornell.edu/uploads/doc_582.pdf.

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.

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!”

Weekly Field Update – 11/23/20

We have added a new resource under the “Resources” section. On the right side of the page, you will find a link labeled “Plant and Seed Supplier List.” This is a list of reputable nurseries and seed suppliers that growers in SC regularly work with. If you know of a good nursery or seed supplier you would like to suggest adding, just let us know.

We would also like to take the opportunity to wish everyone a happy, healthy, and safe Thanksgiving!

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “Strawberry crops continue to develop well with minimal pest and disease pressure so far.  Fall vegetables are progressing towards market.  We are continuing to see pest pressure from caterpillars and a few isolated aphids have been spotted during scouting. As we progress towards the holiday season, scouting of crops remains of vital importance to catch insect infestation and disease progression early for treatments to be effective.”

Zack Snipes reports, “The week of wet weather two weeks prior prevented folks from getting out in the fields to spray for insects. I am seeing lots and lots of worm damage, particularly the diamond back moth.  We need to get ahead of this pest so that we have good looking greens for the New Years Market. There are some very good products that we can use but knowing which ones to use and when to use them is where Clemson Extension can help. If you have swiss cheese plants, then give us a call to help out. The strawberry crops looks ok so far this season. The warm weather has really helped later seeded/transplanted crops. I am seeing some die off/rot in root crops in lower lying areas of fields.”

Don’t forget about your strawberries while eating turkey this year (No those are not chocolate covered raisins). Photo from Zack Snipes.
Graffiti cauliflower almost ready to harvest. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Temperatures got a little cooler last week, with frost showing up in some low lying areas, mostly north of Columbia. Early season growth of strawberries has been impressive so far. As warm as it’s been this fall, early season row covers probably will not be necessary this year unless plants were transplanted late. Caterpillar population size and damage seems to be on the rise in brassicas. I saw some fields this past week where insecticide applications weren’t made in a timely manner nor were materials rotated properly and the caterpillar populations have really gotten out of hand. Call us if you have questions about controlling caterpillars and never use broad spectrum insecticides when caterpillars are your primary pest!”

We’ve had good early season strawberry growth so far. Photo from Justin Ballew.
How many diamondback moth caterpillars and pupae can you count on this leaf? This is a key reason why weekly scouting, timely spraying, proper insecticide rotation, and avoiding broad spectrum insecticides for caterpillar control are so important. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Still a lot of sweetpotatoes in the ground.  The bacterial diseases (Xanthomonas and Pseudomonas) on greens are raging havoc.  Rotation is the best control I have found.  I hate swinecress when it comes to greens -it takes over.  Yellow margined beetle is getting worse in  greens and spreading all over the state – Imidacloprid is a good control without killing beneficials.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Things have certainly slowed down in the field the last few weeks. Apples are mostly finished for the season with ‘Arkansas Black’ being the last variety to be picked. Most growers will keep roadside markets open until Thanksgiving and then call it a quits for the season. Now begins the prep for next year with educational meetings, pesticide certification credits, soil testing, land prep and more. Make sure you are checking the events page for the upcoming trainings.”

Weekly Field Update – 11/9/20

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “It seems like we experience fall and summer in the same day this time of year.  I visited a few farms and saw residual damage from whiteflies (silver leaves, virus, and stunted plants).  The good news is that overall populations of whiteflies are down this week.  The armyworm numbers are still high in a lot of crops so keep an eye out for those.  We have lots of good products for them so choose something other than a group 3 or 4 insecticide.  I have seen some white mold (Sclerotinia sclerotiorum) in some brassica crops this week.  I have some great reports from strawberry fields and other not so great reports.  If you have issues, please call me so we can fix them before they get out of hand.

White mold symptoms on Brussel sprout. Photo from Zack Snipes.
I love seeing cover crops like buckwheat incorporated into crop rotation plans.  Buckwheat outcompetes weeds, mines potassium, and is a safe haven for our beneficial insects. Photo From Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We had some very warm afternoons this past week. The air has been much drier as well. Young strawberries are responding well and have put out a good amount of new growth. Weak plants caused by J-rooting and deep planting are making themselves evident now. The drier air has allowed some growers to get a handle on the disease issues that have plagued us for the last few weeks. However, there is lots of warm, wet weather in the forecast, so plan your fungicide applications accordingly and rotate modes of action. Other crops are still growing well and we have folks picking tomatoes, squash, beans, and various brassicas.

All the strawberry plants in this small area were J-rooted and subsequently died. Photo from Justin Ballew.
Brassicas are looking good in the midlands. These collards were just recently cropped for the first time. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Patchy frost brought an end to some fields of summer crops like squash and zucchini, however most areas did not see damage from cold temps. Cole crops are progressing nicely but insect populations are high this fall, including aphids and imported cabbage worms. Strawberry plants have gone in and are taking root and getting established.”

Caterpillar populations have been high around the ridge this fall. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Getting dry. Hope get some rain later in the week.  Greens are growing very fast with warm weather.  Frost burned the very tops of some crops like sweet potatoes, tomatoes, peas but did not really hurt them much.  Very little grasshopper pressure for some reason this fall.” 

Weekly Field Update – 11/2/20

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “Strawberry planting is mostly complete in the area.  Plants received from nurseries have been very good this year and establishment is progressing well.  In fall vegetable crops Southern army worms continue to be present and numerous.  Whiteflies in fall vegetables are beginning to reduce.  Disease pressure remains relatively low.”

Zack Snipes reports, “Strawberry planting continued last week.  Bare root plants look good going into the ground.  Stay on top of workers to plant them correctly.  I saw some patches with “J” roots or long roots that went to the bottom of the hole and back out.  Those plants will die or produce considerably less yield than properly planted plants. Also, I have seen and heard reports of spider mites on plug transplants.  Check your fields and get out miticide this week if you need it.  Fall growth is very important as well as knocking out the existing spider mite populations.  Remember that the threshold for spider mites is 4-5% of the leaves with a population.  And lastly, I have seen AWFUL disease on purchased transplants.  If you purchase transplants and they have disease on them, DO NOT plant them. The plants will never produce like they should and you are inoculating the rest of your crops and land with that disease.

Clean bareroot cutoff plants.  Notice how white or cream colored the crown is and how clean the roots are. Photo from Zack Snipes.
A freshly purchased and planted collard transplant with black rot.  This plant will never grow out of this, it will reduce yield, and increase inoculum in the soil for the next brassica crop.  Send these plants back and find a new transplant provider. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Young strawberries are growing well so far in the midlands. We’ve had good weather for getting the plants established. We are starting to see some spider mites already, so don’t forget that we need to be scouting regularly as soon as the plants are in the ground. If you plan to cover your strawberries for a couple weeks in the fall, getting rid of mites should be priority #1. Other crops are doing well also, though we are seeing high numbers of caterpillars and diseases like black rot and Alternaria on brassicas have really been ramping up.”

Discoloration on young plants from spider mite feeding damage. Once populations reach the threshold of 4% infestation, treatments need to be made in a timely manner to keep spider mites from hanging around throughout the winter and into the spring. Photo from Justin Ballew.
Alternaria leaf spots on a collard leaf. Be sure to rotate fungicide MOAs when treating. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “First time I have seen large numbers of yellow-margined beetle in Orangeburg County – we had to treat 1 out of 10 fields for them.  If possible do not use a pyrethroid on young greens it will encourage worm and aphid problems.  Still seeing a lot of boron and Magnesium deficiency in greens, mostly because farmers are not liming properly, using sul-pho-mag, or using premium fertilizers with minor elements.  Spray with boron and many applications of Epsom salts and the greens will eventually grow out of the problem.  Like always, swine cress and corn spurry are awful weeds in greens – to control I recommend using a stale-bed culture technique before planting.  We still have butterbeans, peas, and cucurbits in the ground – hope frost stays away until after Thanksgiving.

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “High winds, heavy rains and now cold over night temperatures have laid down a gauntlet for growers in the Upstate over the last week. Many growers in Oconee County lost power from the remnants of hurricane Zeta for anywhere from 1-4 days. Apples are just about finished with mainly Yates and Arkansas Blacks left to pick. Apple growers concerned with fungicide resistance should contact Kerrie to pull Bitter Rot samples now to be sent to the shared lab at NC State.”

Andy Rollins reports, “Finishing up strawberry planting in the upstate.  I’ve been inspecting farms and assisting some growers with planting different types of plants they weren’t used to planting.  Unlike the pictured transplants some are a little smaller than normal but appear to be healthy at this point.   Colder weather is a slight concern as we need decent growing conditions to get them rooted in well.  Some may need to use row covers to keep strawberry plants growing during the first 30 days in the ground if temperatures stay low. Peach growers are putting down fall herbicides still and some are preparing to do delay blooming.  This involves waiting till at least 50% of the leaves are off of the trees before applying a liquid form of ethylene.  Other stipulations are also important regarding temperatures after application. If it is your first time trying this, speak with your county agent to get the correct method.

Healthy strawberry plug ready to be planted. Photo from Andy Rollins.
Strawberry plastic ready to be planted in the upstate. Photo from Andy Rollins.

Weekly Field Update – 10/26/20

Statewide

Dr. Matt Cutulle reports, “A good stand of fall cover crops will typically suppress most weeds. However, you may want to pursue herbicide options for cleaning up the weeds that have pushed through the cover crop canopy. If these cover crops act as buffers in fall vegetable crops, one has to proceed with caution regarding herbicide application. The best selective herbicide option for controlling broadleaf weeds in cereal rye would be a low volatility 2,4D or dicamba product ( the low volatility dicamba products may not be available right now).  Enlist One is a 2,4D choline formulation. Apply the herbicide with a hooded sprayer using nozzles that produce coarse droplets. We are approaching cooler temperatures so the conditions do not favor volatility as much as they did in late spring/summer. If you have a clover cover crop and do not want to kill it, do not spray 2,4D. Using a labeled graminicide (clethodim or sethoxydim products) in clover will provide control of grass weeds that have escaped the clover cover. Remember to read the label and use appropriate surfactants with the graminicides for maximizing activity”

A good fall cover crop can suppress late summer weeds and early winter weeds.

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “Strawberry plants and cut offs are going into the ground in the area.  Remember to check roots and crowns before planting and also supervise planting crews to ensure correct depth of planting is achieved. Caterpillar and whitefly on a range of fall crops, pressure remains high in the area so vigilance and regular scouting will be required to spot potential problems.”

Zack Snipes reports, “This past week was all about strawberries.  I visited many farms and saw lots of plastic being laid.  I checked many strawberry plants from a multitude of nurseries.  Overall the plants look ok this year. I haven’t found any glaringly obvious root or crown rots and very little foliar issues in our plugs and cutoffs.  Overall the plants are on the smaller side and I hope for a good fall growing season so they can size up a bit before going into the winter.  I saw, on a few farms, issues with calibration and equipment for fertilizer distribution.  If you need help calibrating or calculating fertilizer rates, please give me a call. I would be more than happy to come give you a hand.  I hate to even mention it but I am already seeing deer tracks in strawberry fields…if you need it…”

Imagine that…deer tracks in a strawberry field…Get up your fences! Photo from Zack Snipes.
Strawberry plugs about to go in a field.  Can you pick out the smaller, weaker trays of plants?.  I would plant these trays last. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Strawberry planting has wrapped up in the midlands and the earliest transplanted fields are already pushing out new leaves. This cooler, damp weather is much better for getting strawberries established than the dry, 95 degree days we saw this time last year. Be sure to go back through the fields shortly after planting to ensure the plants are set at the proper depth. If any were planted too deep or settled too much after the first overheard watering, gently pull them up to the proper depth and refirm the soil around them. This should be done before new roots start to form. Also, get ready for deer! it doesn’t take them long to find newly planted strawberries.”

Cutoff transplants pushing out new leaves less than a week after planting. Photo from Justin Ballew.
This transplant was either set too deep or it settled too much during the first overhead watering. If any plants are too deep, gently pull them up to the proper depth and repack the soil around them. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Strawberry planting is going full pace. Much of the acreage was planted in the last half of last week. The remainder will be planted this week. So far, the transplants look very good. Acreage is up compared to last year. Brassicas are (for the most part) looking good. Insects have not been much of an issue – minimal caterpillar occurrences, occasional aphids, and some grasshopper damage. Some fields have experienced some plant stunting and plant losses due to persistent wet soil conditions (root rot). Die-off really started to show on affected plants with last week’s heat. Some growers will begin harvest next week.”

Strawberry field immediately after planting. Getting ready to turn on the overhead irrigation. Photo from Bruce McLean.
Aphids on turnip leaves. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “Very little insect and disease problems on greens.  However seen a lot of B and Mg deficiencies.  Continues to harvest sweet potatoes yield is very good.  Some late Butterbeans and peas are planted.  Most strawberries are planted already some deer damage.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Late season rot issues have sent some apple growers looking for more answers with fungicide resistance testing. Apple pathologist Sara Villani’s lab at the MHCREC in Mills River, NC is conducting tests to look at resistance to specific modes of action(MOA) and fungicides in Apple production. Harvest in apples is about 80% complete with only a few varieties left to pick.”