Gummy stem blight is more common and more severe on fall cucurbit crops than crops grown in the spring. The cooler weather and longer dew periods in the fall provide an ideal environment for the fungal pathogen to grow and spread. Gummy stem blight is most common on watermelon and may also be seen on cantaloupe, cucumber, pumpkin, and winter squash foliage. Butternut squash fruit are susceptible to black rot, the fruit rot phase.
All growers—conventional and organic—should follow two proven steps to eradicate (eliminate) the gummy stem blight fungus from infested fields.
Rotate away from all cucurbit crops for 2 years to allow time for the gummy stem blight fungus to die out in infested crop debris. The timeline starts when the first (diseased) crop is disked. It takes a full 24 months for 90% of the debris to decay under South Carolina weather conditions.
Promptly disk cucurbit crop debris after harvest to stop the spread of airborne ascospores from fruiting bodies that form on vines, stems, crowns, petioles, tendrils, and leaves. Burying crop debris helps it decay faster.
Four fungicides provide good control of gummy stem blight on watermelon, the most susceptible cucurbit grown in the fall: Miravis Prime (FRAC Codes 7 + 12), Switch (FRAC Codes 9 + 12), Inspire Super (FRAC Codes 3 + 9), and Luna Experience (FRAC Codes 7 + 3). Note that because these fungicides share active ingredients in FRAC groups 3, 7, 9, and 12, the only products that can be rotated with each other are Miravis Prime and Inspire Super. Another option is to rotate a generic formulation of tebuconazole (FRAC Code 3) with Miravis Prime or Switch. None of these fungicides controls downy mildew or anthracnose. See Watermelon Fungicide Guide for 2021 for a sample spray program for fall watermelon that covers all major foliar diseases.
Dr. Tony Keinath’s remarks on fungicide stewardship:
Growers who are applying newer fungicides that are pre-mixes of two active ingredients do not need to add another fungicide to the tank mix. Pre-mixes can easily be identified by the two FRAC Codes on the label in the top right corner. Please consider the following points:
Many newer fungicides are sold as pre-mixes to reduce the risks of fungicide resistance in fungal and water mold pathogens. Mixing two active ingredients often is a way to prevent or slow resistance development, as long as both active ingredients work against the same disease.
Sometimes two active ingredients are mixed to expand the range of diseases controlled. For example, Quadris Top controls both anthracnose (the Quadris part) and gummy stem blight (the “Top” part, which is Inspire).
Mixing more than 2 pesticides, whether they are 3 fungicides or 2 fungicides plus an insecticide, increases the risk of pesticide injury (burn). Risks may be greater if a spreader-sticker is added, or when air temperatures are above 90 F.
Adding another fungicide to a pre-mix fungicide increases fungicide costs, often without increasing disease control.
Growers should contact their Extension agent before adding another fungicide, even a protectant, to a pre-mix fungicide to be sure it’s really necessary.
Justin Ballew reports, “Not much has changed in the midlands over the last week. We’ve received some scattered rain and it has been warm and humid. As a result, we are still seeing disease issues. We’re still picking tomatoes, squash, zucchini, cucumbers, sweet corn, and a few greens. We’re at an in-between stage in several fields where the spring crops have been finished and folks are preparing to plant fall crops. Some have already started fall cucurbit plantings. For anyone planting strawberries this fall, if you are still deciding which varieties to try, take a look at the NCSU’s 2020/2021 variety comparison data (pages 9 and 10).
Bruce McLean reports, “Vegetable crops are looking pretty good across the Pee Dee. Fields that have received rain or are irrigated look very good. Fields that have missed the rain are a bit drought-stressed. Sweet corn, peas, butterbeans, tomatoes, squash, watermelons, cantaloupes, and cucumbers are all being harvested in good volume. Okra is just beginning to be harvested well. Growers are still fighting cucurbit downy mildew (CDM) on cucumbers. Fields that have been sprayed with fungicides for CDM (Orondis Opti, Gavel, Ranman, and Omega) are relatively clean and producing well. Fields that have not received those products are in severe decline. Cowpea curculio is still being a challenge. Some growers have asked about adding PBO8 (Piperonyl Butoxide) synergist to their insecticide application. Research has shown some efficacy, so it does help. But, it is not the silver bullet that everyone is looking for. There really is no alternative to having a robust spray program, spraying every three to five days starting prior to bloom.
Many varieties of blueberries have already finished up, with only mid-late and late rabbiteye blueberries going now. Blackberries have finished up, as well. Summer primocane tipping and floricane removal has begun. Be sure to apply a broad-based fungicide to all open wounds/pruning cuts to prevent disease development (I.e. cane blight, etc). Muscadines are sizing up pretty well. Grape root borer traps have been placed in vineyards, but no moths captured yet.
Kerrie Roach reports, “Things in the Upstate were a little wet the last few days and it looks like showers will continue into the middle part of the week at least. Continue preventative measures for disease control and if/when a plant seems too far involved, remove and dispose of the entire plant to prevent further spread. Squash vine borer has been one of the continued problems in market garden production in the last 2 weeks. At this late point in the season and lifecycle, monitor plants closely and as soon as frass is seen, carefully cut the stem longitudinally and remove/kill the larval stage of the borer. You can mound soil on the cut part of the stem to help encourage new root growth. If done early enough, plants can continue to thrive despite the slice in the stem. New plantings of cucurbits set out in the last week or so should mature after the adults have finished laying eggs, but monitor closely for any wilting. Crop rotation, row covers, traps (yellow bowl of water), and pesticide applications can also be used as a part of a good IPM program. Check out the crop handbook for more specifics.
Andy Rollins reports, “We are having thrips issues on 3 crops peaches, pepper and cucumber. Thrips as seen in the picture cause surface damage to the outside make it aesthetically less appealing and marketable. On pepper they damage the leaves and can transmit viruses to the plant (on cucumber also). They are much worse in greenhouse and high-tunnel settings. I have been recently concerned about presence of chili thrips and I am waiting on definite identification. This is a good website about this new pest. I also found a rare disease called foot rot of squash in the upstate. It was identified by Dr. Tony Keinath. Rotation is very important with all of our vegetable crops. We are picking some excellent quality peaches in the upstate. Cold damage has limited our wholesale picking.”
Join us this Wednesday (3/24/21) at 12:30 pm for a discussion on diamondback moth management in Brassica crops. It will be a relatively short meeting, lasting around 45 minutes, so tune in while you eat your lunch. Click here to register.
Zack Snipes reports, “We got some needed rain but we got a lot of it in a short amount of time. Winter peas and spring planted brassicas are looking good. Tomato and squash are in the ground on some farms but because of the cooler weather and soil temperatures, really haven’t taken off yet. I see a lot of brassica fields leftover from the fall. These fields are harboring all of our insects and diseases that we will have to fight this coming season. Mow these fields down and turn them under. Do not leave them. I am seeing lots and lots of diamondback moths and black rot in these leftover fields. Some more sad news this week from the Lowcounty as Mr. Adair McKoy, Sr. passed away this past week. Mr. McKoy was full of wisdom and had years and years of practical farming knowledge that he loved sharing with others. Never did I visit him when I didn’t learn something new. His love and care for the land was truly inspirational.”
Justin Ballew reports, “We had some cooler, wetter weather last week that slowed things down a bit in the fields. Several brassica fields that were planted in the fall and grew through the winter are right on the verge of bolting. If harvest is finished in these field, they need to be bush hogged and disked in as soon as possible to keep diamondback moths and any other caterpillars from breeding and making their way into spring planted fields. Strawberries are still coming along. There are lots of green fruit and a few are ripening here and there. I heard of the first few being picked in Lexington County last week. The weather conditions this week are going to be perfect again for Botrytis spore development, so don’t let up on spray programs.”
This will be the final update of 2020. We will pick back up on 1/4/21. Be sure to keep an eye on the upcoming events tab give us a call if you need anything. Happy Holidays from the SC Grower team! We hope everyone takes some time to enjoy the season, and may 2021 bring you good health, great family time, and as always…prosperous fields!
Zack Snipes reports, “A chilly week in the Lowcountry took out or really slowed down some of our fruiting crops like pepper, tomato, and cukes. The brassicas and strawberries are loving this weather. One thing I have noticed lately is lots of worm damage on brassica. After talking to many growers, I hear that many are not using adjuvants in their spray tanks. Adjuvants can help your pesticides work better. A common one I would recommend on brassica crops is the use of a spreader-sticker. Brassica crops have a waxy leaf which repels water. The use of a spreader-sticker will help stick the pesticide droplet to your leaf and the spreader will help reduce surface tension so that the droplets spreads out on your leaf. You will be amazed at how much better coverage you will get with a spreader-sticker and how much better your pesticide will work (organic or conventional pesticide). Adjuvants are cheap so consider adding some to your tank today. For more on adjuvants and spray tips, join us on Tuesday night from 6-8 pm for the Organic/Sustainable Farm Meeting via Zoom. The registration link can be found here.“
Justin Ballew reports, “We had two nights last week where temperatures dipped below freezing. After a long fall growing season, the tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and squash are done. Now growers will be focusing on strawberries, greens, and herbs. Strawberries in some fields had developed blooms as a result of the late warm weather. Now that the cold has killed them, it will be important to sanitize them before the spring, as dead blooms can become a significant source of grey mold inoculum. As always, don’t let up on scouting for caterpillars in greens.”
Sarah Scott reports, “Brassicas are being harvested. Pest pressure is relatively high this season including aphids and diamondback months. Peach fields are being prepped for new plantings. In areas where armillaria root rot has been an issue in past crops, growers will use a plow to create burms to plant trees on. Rain has slowed plowing down but there is a dry forecast for the next 7 days.”
Pestalotia leaf spot and fruit rot are emerging diseases that were discovered last season on strawberries in the southeast. This could potentially have an impact on SC strawberry production, though the extent is yet to be determined. Please see these two publications (UF and UGA) and be on the lookout. If you suspect you’ve found Pestalotia leaf spot or fruit rot, please let your local Clemson Extension Agent know.
Zack Snipes reports, “Strawberries are planted and for the most part looking good. I am seeing some spider mite damage on plug plants. Get out and scout and treat as needed. In some areas we had 4 or more inches of rain last week which made fields sloppy, unable to be harvested, and tough to spray. Get out and look for worms in brassica this week.”
Justin Ballew reports, “Last week was warm and wet, as expected. We had a good amount of rain Tuesday evening and Wednesday. I expect to see foliar diseases increase this week. Pecan harvest continues in the midlands. While yields have been very good, nut quality isn’t quite where we want it. This is most likely from the trees not getting enough water at certain times during the summer when the nuts were filling. The weather is forecast to get cool this week. It there should happen to be a frost, that would be the end of the fall squash and tomato crops.”
Tony Melton reports, “We have seen some flea beetles/larvae feeding on strawberry transplants and yellow-margined leaf beetle has been bad on brassicas. Some crops have been drowned by the rain. Harvest or row-cover warm season vegetables before the frost to avoid damage. Harvesting the last of the butterbeans and peas this week. A lot (500 or more acres) of sweet potatoes are still in the ground and harvest will begin again after the soil dries.”
Andy Rollins reports, “Still inspecting strawberry plantings across the upstate. Look for uneven growth on either side of the bed and also in the row. Placement of drip tape depth and distance from plants is very important as is proper planting. Uneven up and down growth can be indication of root rot or other problems too, so look carefully. Unusually wet weather from recent hurricanes has given us conditions very favorable for fungal Botrytis growth. Dead tissue is very susceptible to being colonized first. Use of Captan, a protectant fungicide would be advised as long as conditions remain favorable.”
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.“
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
Dr. Tony Keinath reports, “For the past few years, Orondis Opti on cucumber and cantaloupe and Orondis Ultra on pumpkin and watermelon have been the best fungicides to manage downy mildew. Based on results from a spring 2020 cucumber experiment at Coastal REC, Orondis is no longer the “silver bullet” it was 2 years ago. In my experiment, Orondis Opti rotated with Bravo controlled downy mildew in the early part of the season, but disease increased significantly during the latter part of the season and ended up higher than expected. Part of the shortcoming of the Orondis Opti/Bravo spray program was the Bravo rotation. Bravo sprayed by itself every other week did not control downy mildew at all, so spraying Orondis Opti/Bravo acted like Orondis Opti sprayed every other week, which was not enough. The labels for Orondis Opti and Orondis Ultra say they must be rotated with another fungicide. For the rest of the 2020 season, use Orondis Opti/Ranman + chlorothalonil on cucumber and cantaloupe, and Orondis Ultra rotated with Gavel or Ranman + chlorothalonil on pumpkin and watermelon. Always use the high rate (2.5 pints/acre) of Orondis products. Note that the mancozeb in Gavel or adding chlorothalonil helps to manage other foliar diseases like gummy stem blight and anthracnose. Yield data and input costs from my experiment are being analyzed to see if spraying Orondis leads to a higher net return despite the higher cost of this fungicide. Results will be presented at the virtual Cucurbit meeting in February 2021 to help growers plan downy mildew fungicide programs for the 2021 season.”
Rob Last reports, “Fall crops continue to grow well in the area. Given the current weather patterns pests and disease are active in some crops particularly where there are volunteers remaining from previous crops. Vigilance will be required in scouting an pesticide management programs. If In doubt scout.”
Justin Ballew reports, “It’s been cool, cloudy, and kind of pleasant outside this past week, though that has the vegetable crops growing a little slower. We’ve gotten some decent rains in most areas around the midlands as well. Bacterial spot is really showing up on fall tomatoes as a result of all the recent rain. It could be a bad fall for bacterial spot if the weather stays like this. Caterpillars are already out there on fall brassicas. It doesn’t take long once they’re planted. Start scouting, scout often, and rotate insecticides. Remember to contact one of us about screening your farm for insecticide resistance in diamondback moths once you start seeing populations build up.”
Bruce McLean reports, “Both fruit and vegetable development has slowed a bit due to cloudy conditions. Sunny conditions needed. Sweetpotatoes are sizing well and will be ready for harvest soon. Fall cucumbers and squash should soon be ready to start harvesting. Fall brassicas are being planted now. Muscadine crop is getting close to harvest. Noble is around 90% ripe; Carlos is around 60%; Doreen is still around 25%. Brix (sugar content) is off due to rain and cloudy conditions. Noble and Carlos brix are averaging around 11% with a low of 9.2% and a high of 15.0%. Doreen is averaging less than 10%. Did find a few Doreen that brix was over 19%… candy. Sunny conditions definitely needed.”
Tony Melton reports, “Beginning to harvest processing sweet potatoes but some have been stunted and delayed by excessive rain. Spraying processing peas for cowpea curculio. Starting to plant processing greens by seed. Even though lots of rain and having to mud through fields cucumbers for pickles are being harvested and still being planted.”
Andy Rollins reports, “Blueberry pruning is best served for the dormant time of year late January-late February. I met with a commercial grower who was anxious about getting started early partly because he has many plants completely unproductive for the second year in a row. I like to call this revenge pruning as that is the primary motivation. Be careful, you could end up hurting yourself more in the long run. In his case, it was all about light and proper pruning to encourage light down through the canopy. The orignial spacing of Rabbiteye type varieties was very close so we also considered killing every other plant to get more light into the bushes but this would not replace the need for properly selectively removing a few of the oldest canes each year, spacing them out so there is better light penetration. For a detailed explanation, please see NCSU Blueberry specialist Bill Cline’s presentation.”