Spring fruit and vegetable meetings are being announced daily, so keep an eye on the “Upcoming Events” tab over the next several weeks.
Dr. Matt Cutulle reports, “I have been seeing a lot of Henbit in the coastal area this year (A big chunk of it in Dr. Brian Ward’s research fields). Don’t be deceived by the pretty flowers. We don’t really have any options for selectively controlling the weed POST in most vegetable crops. Mowing before viable seed head formation is a good way to reduce the weed seed bank deposit of this problematic winter annual. More description of the weed can be found at (https://www.clemson.edu/cafls/research/weeds/weed-id-bio/broadleaf-weeds-parent/broadleaf-pages/henbit.html)”
Dr. Tony Keinath reports,”White mold (Sclerotinia sclerotiorum) is active in the Charleston area. The two nights of freezing temperatures December 18-19 likely stimulated sclerotia to germinate and produce ascospores. Warm, overcast weather with mist and light rain is ideal for spread and germination of the airborne ascospores. Weather conditions likely will remain favorable for white mold over the next 3 months. Growers will need to rotate conventional white mold fungicides due to limits on the number of applications that can be made per crop.
For organic crops, Sonata at 8 pints per acre may offer some protection. See pages 185 and 222 in the 2020 Vegetable Crop Handbook for Southeastern United States.”
Zack Snipes reports, “Warm and muggy is the only way to describe the past week. I was out in a blueberry patch and noticed some low chill hour varieties already blooming. We have gotten very few chill hours to date in Charleston. Chill hours are the number of hours below 45F and are required for proper fruiting of perennial fruits. For a normal year in Charleston we should get anywhere from 400-600 chill hours. I have also seen strawberries pushing out some blooms. Growers should not worry as that is normal for this time of year. I think it is still too early to starting pushing strawberries for fruiting. Remember that it takes 35 or so days to go from bloom to picking a strawberry. It we let our plants grow and develop more crowns right now (rather than fruit), then we will have greater production this spring.”
Low chill hour blueberries are already showing some blooms. Photo from Zack Snipes.
Strawberries starting to push out a few blooms. Photo from Zack Snipes.
Justin Ballew reports, “It was unseasonably warm this past week and we had a couple significant rain events over the weekend. I’ve seen a few daffodils and forsynthia blooming already. Strawberries are growing a little faster right now and that’s good new for fields that are a little behind. The weather conditions we have right now are very conducive to Phytophthora development, so now would be a good time for a Ridomil application through the drip, especially in fields with a history of Phytophthora. Winter weeds are really exploding now. Make sure to pull any weeds coming up in the plant holes so they aren’t competing with the strawberries. We’re still harvesting brassicas and they look good other than a little Sclerotinia here and there.”
A likely Pytophthora infection in a strawberry crown. The tip of the crown near the roots has turned reddish/brown. Photo from Justin Ballew.
Cabbage in the midlands is looking nice. Photo from Justin Ballew
Sarah Scott reports, “Wet and overly warm temperatures have set in along the Ridge over the past week. 2.5 inches of rain have fallen but with soil already wet it is making for difficult working conditions. Fields are still being prepped for peach tree planting and pruning should begin this week. With temperatures reaching into the 70s there is a concern that higher chill varieties of peaches may not get adequate chilling requirements to produce optimum yields but we will have to wait and see what the weather continues to do. Cabbage, collards, and kale are still being harvested along with a few other late winter crops. Strawberries are putting on a lot of growth with the warm temperatures. Some spider mites in the field but very minimal observations.”
Strawberries are growing fast in this warm weather. Photo from Sarah Scott.
Lalo Toledo reports, “Spider mite populations are begging to increase in our area. Most brassica producers are selling out. Remember to disk in remaining plant material as soon as possible, this reduces the chance of disease in your following crop year. Sclerotinia white mold has been very prevalent in our area. Remember to rotate for a minimum of three years if disease emerges. Weather has not allowed for spring bedding to begin.”
Pee Dee Region
Tony Melton reports, “Last week, folks hurried before rain to get land bedded for greens to be planted the first of February. This will allow weeds to emerge so they can be killed before planting in stale-bed-culture. Strawberries are loving this warm weather.”
Kerrie Roach reports, “We have some growers who are finished pruning apples and peaches, some who have just started, and others who haven’t touched their orchards yet. We will see who fairs the best… I have concerns with what I would consider to be early pruning, combined with continued warm temperatures creating a perfect storm for when cold temperatures finally arrive. Heavy rains have plagued the area, with more than 13 inches recorded at the Oconee airport in January thus far.”