Weekly Field Update – 6/1/21

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “On the whole disease pressure in most crops remains low. The exception is cucurbits where we are finding powdery mildew in cucumbers as well as downy mildew. Cucurbit bacterial wilt has been found in isolated fields. This disease is characterized by wilting of one vine or the whole plant. Once cut the stem will ooze a sticky sap from the wound. It is transmitted by the feeding activities of cucumber beetles. Strawberries are beginning to slow down while tomatoes peppers and peaches are doing very well.”

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We had an unseasonably hot week last week followed by a much cooler weekend. Some places received a little rain early in the week and some places received a little on Saturday. However, the Midlands are very dry overall. Crops responded well to the heat last week. Brassicas and cucurbit crops progressed extremely quickly. Squash and zucchini are setting fruit and some are being picked. Brassica and herbs are still being harvested. Tomatoes are setting fruit, but we still have a little time before picking on a large scale.”

Squash has grown rapidly in the last week in the Midlands. Photo from Justin Ballew
A bumble bee pollinating a squash blossom. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Peaches are still going strong in the Ridge. Some varieties are showing more cold damage than anticipated, but there is still a good crop out there. It seems that the very early varieties and then some of the very late varieties are the ones with the most damage. Some bacterial spot is showing up but not near as bad as last season, mainly due to dry conditions. We’ve had some really hot days but this past week we finally got some relief from the temperatures and some cloudy days. Hopefully rain is in the future as growers are irrigating heavily now. Some second croppings of Camarosa strawberries are still being harvested this week. Squash, zucchini, and cucumbers are producing well. Insect pressure is starting to occur more heavily, but disease, for the most part, is still at bay.”

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Blueberry harvest, after getting a late start, is starting to provide good quantities. Strawberry harvest is winding down for most. Last week’s heat caused much of the strawberries to become soft and unmarketable. Some varieties are still holding up though, with limited harvest. Some early blackberries are being harvested in good volume, with very good quality. Peach harvest is light and fruit is a bit small. Tomato harvest should begin late this week/early next week. Tomatoes have been experiencing some environmental stress (heat, low humidity, high UV), causing some leaf curl. This should subside with the increased moisture and lower temperatures. Squash are starting to be harvested. Cucumbers harvest isn’t far away. Peas and beans have been affected by thrips, but are growing out of that damage. Sweet corn harvest is getting near. Vegetable planting is starting to resume with the recent moisture and reduced temps.”

Although small and difficult to see, thrips (larva pictured above) can be a limiting factor for yield in muscadines. Thrips feed upon the blooms of the crop, damaging the flowers and early developing fruits. Checking for their presence during bloom is critical for their control. Placing a sheet of white paper underneath the clusters of blooms and forcefully bumping the wire or cordon with your fist should dislodge the insect, allowing it to drop onto the paper for detection. The size of the insect is small – about 0.5 – 1.0 mm in length.

Tony Melton reports, “Peppers and tomatoes are setting fruit. Harvesting pickles consistently. Applying downy mildew and pickleworm materials regularly. Finishing up first cut of collards for processing. Started 2nd cut of processing turnips. Harvesting processing cabbage. Snap beans and butter beans are flowering. Setting sweet potatoes as fast as slips become available.”

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 – 4/19/21

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “We had some nice weather last week. The tomato crop is looking great as are most of our cucurbits and greens. I am seeing increased caterpillar pressure across the area. We had several calls from across the state early last week about sunburned strawberries. We went and visited the farms and tried to rule out disease, frost damage, etc. The only thing we came up with is some sort of sunburn damage. This was most prevalent on the southern facing sides of beds where there was poor canopy coverage. I also saw damaged tissue on tender lettuce, in my citrus plots at the CREC, and on some new shoots of ornamentals at my house. I checked the solar radiation at the weather station at the CREC and the units (W/m2) were 300-500 units higher on Monday when compared to the prior 4 days. Perhaps we had intense UV levels and higher temperatures that led to this damage? Here is a really great article on the types of sunburn on plants and fruit.”

Discolored, damaged, and unmarketable strawberries. Photo from Zack Snipes.
The berries were clean on the inside and had no bad odors or flavor. Photo from Zack Snipes.
Solar radiation measurement from a weather station at Coastal REC in Charleston. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “The weather was a little cooler last week and we are really dry here in the midlands. I’ve had less than 4 tenths of an inch of rain so far in the month of April. This has been really helpful for disease management in strawberries. I’ve seen very little grey mold compared to years past. Spider mites are enjoying the dry weather, though. I’m starting to see populations really grow, so keep a close eye on that. Caterpillar populations appear to be building, though overall they are still low on spring planted brassicas. Tomatoes and cucurbits have been going in the ground and doing well so far. Sweet corn is growing well and it’s hard to even tell some of the leaves were burned by the cold a couple weeks ago.”

Two-spotted spider mites on the underside of a strawberry leaf. Photo from Justin Ballew.
If a treatment is needed for mites, use a dedicated miticide. Using broad spectrum insecticides kills beneficials, like this lacewing, which can lead to explosive mite population growth. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Peach producers are continuing thinning fruit since we feel that we have a good assessment of what was damaged by cold. Growers who have varieties with significant losses may want to take a look at a reduced spray schedule to ensure adequate disease and pesticide coverage for the season. It’s important to maintain orchards even if they are not going to produce a crop to maintain the health of the trees.”

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Cool night temperatures making strawberries, cabbage, collards, and greens happy. We are actually having a true spring this year. Labor is our #1 problem for small growers. Some crops have been destroyed by mistakenly applying the wrong chemicals, especially atrazine since corn is being planted now. Hundreds of acres of tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers are already planted and holding their own.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Peach and apple damage continues to be assessed. Weather forecasts in northern Oconee County for Tuesday night/Wednesday morning predict more cold weather, but growers are hoping for temperatures to stay above freezing as forecasted. Strawberries in the Upstate are starting to ripen. Last week most fields were being spot picked, but with warm sunny days many of the u-pick operations are beginning to open this week. The cold temperatures predicted Tuesday night/Wednesday morning could become an issue for berry growers depending on location, elevation, and air movement.”

Weekly Field Update – 9/8/20

Statewide

Dr. Matt Cutulle reports, “With all the rain we had in August the weed seed bank is starting to pop. Nutsedge pressure can be really tough in September.  For fall cole crop plantings, it is important to initiate the stale seed bed technique (allow weeds to come up and burn them down multiple times before planting). In some cole crops, such as broccoli, Dual Magnum may be used, which provides some pre-emergent suppression of yellow nutsedge (Max 60% probably). Following with an in-row cultivation several weeks after planting will strain the photosynthate reserves of nutsedge, which could be lethal to the nutsedge if we get a  cold snap in late October.”

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “I saw whiteflies everywhere last week.  I saw them on just about every crop in the field: squash, zucchini, tomato, peas, eggplant, okra.  We have very good options to manage whiteflies, so consult with your local agent or look up the specific products for the crop you are growing in the Southeast Crop Handbook. Be careful not to use pyrethroids for whiteflies as resistance will develop very quickly.  Longer lasting, more specific options are available that are better options.  I also saw a good many worms last week such as the melonworm in cucurbits and the beet armyworm in other crops.  If you have whiteflies and worms in a crop then the group 28 insecticides (Coragen, Verimark/Exirel, Harvanta) are excellent options to take care of both pests at the same time with good residual.”

Whitefly infestations are severe in some places on the Coast. Photo from Zack Snipes.
Whiteflies on tomato leaves. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Last week was extremely hot and dry, though we finally got some relief from the heat over the weekend. Crops are progressing well, though we are seeing caterpillar activity increase. We’re seeing diamondback moth and cabbage loopers in brassica crops and armyworms in tomatoes. Be sure to rotate insecticide MOA’s when treating for caterpillars. I’m also seeing a few whiteflies around, but nothing severe yet. Black rot is starting to show up on some brassicas. Strawberry growers are starting to apply their preplant fertilizers in preparation for shaping the beds.”

Black rot getting started on a young collard plant. Photo from Justin Ballew

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Muscadine harvest is starting to wind down. Harvest looked good and had very good yields. Brix averaged out at 13.5 to 14.5%, depending upon the cultivar and the vineyard. Now is a good time to evaluate successes and problems from this season and write them down while they’re fresh on your mind. Also, look at the overall amount of foliage on the vines. Is it too much? Not quite enough? Start planning how you need to adjust fertility for next year. A post-harvest potassium fertilizer application has proven to be beneficial to the crop (in on-farm settings), especially in wet years. Overall plant health, spring emergence and vigor, and next year’s yields should be well improved.”

A bin of Carlos muscadines ready to be loaded and delivered for processing. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “Getting dry and need some rain. Busy planting turnips, mustard, and collards. Harvesting processing sweet potatoes as quickly as they can process them (problems in the plant). Picking pickles and yielding much better with dryer conditions. Also, pickling plants having trouble with getting enough labor so very few peppers harvested. Still spraying processing peas for cowpea curculio. Watch out for southern stem blight it is still raging havoc.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “The last few peaches are making their way to stands and markets. Things are continuing to look good as the Apple crop progresses in the upstate. Growers to the north in Hendersonville, NC suffered multiple hail events causing a large amount of damage, but SC growers seem to have escaped the worst of it. Vegetable production has slowed significantly with many small growers finishing for the season over the next few weeks. Muscadines are coming into their prime, and look to be highly productive this year.”

Golden Delicious apples that still have a little ways to ripen for optimum sugar content, but work great for baking. Notice the green tint. As they continue to ripen, a yellow cast & even a blush may appear. Photo from Kerrie Roach.

Andy Rollins reports, “These plants were found positive for Phytopthora root rot last week in an early upstate strawberry planting.  Inspection of plants when they arrive can accurately diagnose this problem.  Brown to blackish colored roots are characteristic.  A small portion of this material is taken from 5-10 plants then placed into a pouch that accurately identifies the presence of Phytopthora within a few min.  As in picture, 1 line tells you the test worked properly 2 lines indicates presence of the fungus.  Early treatment with Ridomil and or any of the phosphite (Rampart/Prophyt) is very helpful but must begin quickly if plants are widely infected for the best results.”

Dark colored roots are a characteristic symptom of Phytophthora root rot. Photo from Any Rollins.
An immunostrip test can be used to diagnose phytophthora. Two horizontal red lines on the strip (right side of the bag) means the sample is positive for phytophthora. Photo from Andy Rollins.

Field Update – 7/27/20

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “It has been a hot week in the Lowcountry. Most spring and summer crops have finished up. Ground is being prepared and planted for fall crops. I have received a few texts from growers that have yellow dots on their zucchini plants, which is downy mildew. Even in this heat downy can still be an issue. I have also had some reports of green-colored squash in fields which is an indication of a viral pathogen. The crop handbook has recommendations for cultivars that are resistant to these viruses that cause this discoloring. Fall is notoriously bad for cucurbit viruses so plan accordingly.  I have also seen some flea beetle damage on crops as of late.”

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Downy mildew looks a little different on zucchini and pumpkin than it does on cukes. Photo from Zack Snipes.

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Flea beetle feeding damage on blackberry foliage. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “It’s been hot in the midlands and we’ve gotten to the point where there isn’t much relief at night. We had some scattered rain throughout the week, but overall we’re still quite dry. Lots of land is still being prepped for fall crops. We’ve had some fall brassicas and cucurbits planted already and they’re looking good so far. Last week I got to watch a pecan grower in Lexington thin some pecan trees. Without thinning, he would have seen a massive yield this year, which would result in a significantly diminished yield next year. Pecan growers aim for nuts on just 70% of the terminal buds.”

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Fall squash seedlings just beginning to emerge. Photo from Justin Ballew

Thinning pecans with a mechanical shaker. You can see the nuts fall as the tree vibrates.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Pickles are still being harvested and planted. We still have hundreds of thousands of bushels in contract to be planted and harvested.  Peas for processing are being rapidly harvested and replanted, some seed is short.  Sweet potatoes are starting to swell and size.  Processing peppers are being harvested but we have a shortage of labor and multi-millions of lbs. left to harvest.  Processing tomatoes will be finished harvest this coming week.  Spring planted fresh market butterbeans and peas are mostly harvested but seed is short to plant the fall crop. Still have some flooded fields and drowned crop.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Spotty rain across the county again last week has led to continued issues for growers without irrigation. Fall planting for vegetables is in full force. Peaches are looking good, and apples are coming along. Most growers will be putting on a fungicide cover spray this week before significant rains are forecasted.”

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Reverted apple rootstock (believed to be M7) volunteer tree with aborted fruitlet. Photo from Kerrie Roach.

Andy Rollins reports, “Bacterial speck and bacterial spot of tomato are major problems in plum tomato varieties in the upstate right now.  They were not able to control this disease even with a vigorous spray program using mancozeb + copper on several farms.  In nearby plantings of large fruit varieties, the disease is present but not a problem.  Samples have been sent to researchers at Auburn University where the have confirmed the presence of copper resistant isolates from other farms.  Call on your extension agent for assistance with identifying and controlling this problem.”

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Bacterial speck on a tomato leaf from the upstate. Photo from Andy Rollins.

Field Update – 5/18/20

Statewide

Dr. Tony Keinath reports, “With the cooler-than-normal spring weather, two cool-season pathogens also may be active longer than normal. Downy mildew on brassicas, especially kale and collard, mainly affects the lower leaves. Sometimes it will move up onto the larger leaves in the middle of the plant. With a hand lens, you can see white mildew growth in lesions on the bottom of the leaves. In my spring 2020 trial, Presidio, potassium phosphite, and Zampro rotated with potassium phosphite worked well. Organic growers can use Badge X2 copper, which also performed well.

Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. niveum, the soilborne fungus that attacks watermelon, infects roots when soil temperatures are below 82F. At Coastal REC, I am still seeing new plants showing wilt symptoms. Remember that all control measures, and I want to stress all of them, must be applied before or at transplanting. There is nothing that can be done at this stage of crop growth. It is too late to apply fungicides, which will be a waste of money.”

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Tiny dark flecks of downy mildew on the bottom of ‘Blue Dwarf’ kale. Photo from Dr. Tony Keinath.

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Sporulation of downy mildew on the underside of ‘Tiger’ collard. Photo from Dr. Tony Keinath.

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Wilting and yellowing of lower leaves due to Fusarium wilt on watermelon 6 weeks after transplanting. Photo from Dr. Tony Keinath.

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “Things are coming along in the Lowcountry.  It has been very windy and I’ve had several farmers tell me that crops are using more water now because of the wind than if it were hot and humid.  Squash, zucchini, cukes, potatoes, and greens are coming off in good volume right now. Tomatoes are just a few weeks away and are in the sizing up stages right now. I have not seen any major pests or diseases as of late.  The conditions are ripe for the development of Powdery Mildew so be on the lookout when scouting watermelon, squash, brassica, and tomato.”

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Tomatoes are looking good and are just a few short weeks away. Photo from Zack Snipes.

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Powdery mildew on the shaded side of a collard leaf. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “It’s dry in the midlands. It’s been great because we haven’t seen much disease lately (especially on strawberries), but we need some rain. The forecast looks like we may get some this week. Strawberries are still yielding fairly well, though we’re starting to see fewer blooms. Fruit size is getting smaller, but taste has still been great. The first few plantings of sweet corn are tasseling now. Brassicas are still growing well, though there is some black rot out there.  Tomatoes, peppers, and cucurbits have been growing fast the last few days also.”

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The earliest plantings of sweet corn are tasseling. Photo from Justin Ballew.

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Black rot symptoms on the margins of cabbage leaves. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Peach season is here! Picking several early varieties now and running packing lines. The crop looks good for this season. Bacteriosis started to show up on leaves and fruit in fields. Still picking strawberries. Summer crops like bell pepper and squash are progressing nicely.”

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Phomopsis or twig blight in a peach orchard. Lesions on twigs cause dieback, gumosis and curling at tips. Remove damaged wood and burn. Photo from Sarah Scott.

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Twig dieback from Phomopsis twig blight. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Lalo Toledo reports, “Cool temperatures have slowed down the growth of many vegetables, but most vegetable plants are looking great. Please be aware of possible diseases coming in this week. Wet and hot conditions will be conducive for pests and diseases. Please spray accordingly and scout every two days, if possible.”

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Grasshopper damage on eggplant. Photo from Lalo Toledo.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Hail has destroyed at least 10 A squash, 200 A peaches, 30 A strawberries, 8 A blackberries, many acres of field corn, tobacco, rye, and wheat.  Damaged another 35 A strawberries, 300 A peaches.  Thank goodness that the wind has let up for a while and temperatures have risen on tomatoes, peppers, peas, beans, and sweet potatoes.  Thrips have been awful and imidacloprid is only partially controlling them. If labeled use dimethoate, acephate, etc.   More herbicide damage than usual this year because of cool temperatures and wind, even on labeled crops and drift to non-labeled crops has been awful.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “With a week of good growing conditions, things are looking great in the Upstate for fruit & vegetable producers. In higher elevations, there were some losses of young tender plants during isolated frost events early last week. With rains expected most of this coming week, things should start to really push for our market vegetable growers. Peaches and apples are on track for a good season.