Weekly Field Update – 4/26/21

Join us this Wednesday (3/24/21) at 12:30 pm for an update from the tomato fields with Zack Snipes. It will be a relatively short meeting, lasting 30-45 minutes, so tune in while you eat your lunch. Click here to register.

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “Crops in the area continue to develop well, and I expect this to continue after some welcome rainfall over the weekend.  Following the rain over the weekend and returning to warm temperatures, keep scouting for diseases in crops and ensure fungicide applications are made promptly. Spider mites show activity in a range of crops from strawberries to peppers, tomatoes, and blackberries. Always remember to use a specific miticide for spider mite control to avoid flaring populations. Cucumber beetles are beginning to be found in sticky traps. Currently, no damage is being seen to crops. Treatment options include neonicotinoid insecticides applied as a foliar spray or through the drip system.  When treatments are made, it is possible feeding damage will be seen as the pests need to ingest the pesticide.”

Zack Snipes reports, “We finally got some rain last week that I think will benefit all of our crops. Spider mites were the talk of the community last week. I saw high populations on strawberries as well as blackberries. On farms with mixed produce, you will want to scout all crops, even if they are at a stage where they normally wouldn’t have mites. I found mites on tomatoes last week because they were adjacent to a strawberry crop. We need to get on top of this pest before its too late. There are plenty of IPM techniques and strategies for this pest. Also, if you have sprayed a product in strawberry and are considering treating other crops nearby, you may want to rotate products/chemistries from what you sprayed on strawberry. Chances are those are the same genetically similar spider mites so if you had any resistance in strawberry, or another crop, then you may see it on tomato or watermelon.”

Taking good photos of spider mites is tough but on this leaf you can see several two-spotted spider mites. Don’t wait until you see symptomatic damage to manage this pest.    

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We had a cold event in the midlands that seems like it got around 5 degrees colder in most areas than what the forecast called for. It got to 35 at my house Wednesday night/Thursday morning. South of Columbia and Lake Murray, I only heard a couple reports of light frost, but north of Columbia, I heard reports of the temperatures reaching 31. We’re certainly going to see some damage in those areas to spring crops that weren’t covered. On another note, strawberries are yielding really well right now. Growers are reporting that yields are at times outpacing sales. We finally got some rain this weekend (just under an inch at my house), so we’re going to see some water-damaged berries and the moisture will give grey mold an opportunity to increase. The rain was good news for spider mite management, as their populations had been thriving in the dry conditions. Diamondback moth populations are increasing in brassicas, so keep up with scouting.”

Strawberries have been yielding well and berry size has been quite large on some cultivars. Photo from Justin Ballew
We haven’t seen much grey mold lately, but the rain we had over the weekend may allow it to make a comeback. Photo from Justin Ballew

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Last week’s brief kiss of frost doesn’t appear to have caused any significant problems on the crops. But, it is starting to get a bit dry. Sweet corn and pea emergence has been looking good, with most locations having an excellent stand. Cucurbit crops are starting to emerge, as well. Transplant tomatoes are looking very good. Everyone is taking advantage of this beautiful weather to plant vegetable crops and blueberries… just don’t forget to irrigate. Strawberry harvest is peaking right now and the fruit looks really good. Disease pressure is pretty low, but spider mite activity is high in many locations. In blueberries, much of the damaged fruit (from the Easter freeze) is beginning to shed off of the plant. Hopefully, this will continue… so lingering damaged fruit will not slow down harvest (starting in a few weeks). Muscadines are starting to show some early flower bud development.”

Early flower bud development in Carlos muscadine. Photo from Bruce McLean.
Crimson clover cover crop in a muscadine vineyard is a beautiful sight to see. It serves as a great habitat for beneficial insects. Photo from Bruce McLean.
Blueberries planted on plastic mulch covered beds. The plastic reduces the development of weeds, thereby reducing competition for the newly planted blueberry plants. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “Peppers, cucumber, and tomatoes are just sitting and not growing. Extra fertilizer will do little for growth in these cool conditions. Cabbage needs to be sprayed for thrips, sclerotinia, and caterpillars. Cabbage, collards, and greens are loving the cool weather and hauling butt, so side-dress to keep growing. Strawberries are loving these cool conditions and are really producing. We are having an overabundance of local strawberries making them hard to sell – many are being discarded. Just a small amount of wind damage. Tomatoes, peppers, and cucumber plants were not big enough to act like a sail and be blown (twisted-off) in the wind. Got just enough rain to start planting dryland peas. I know I will regret saying this – “but I hope it warms up soon.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Every day brings us a little closer to May in the Upstate, and with that brings a little less chance of a frost or freeze event. Last week Thursday brought on lows of 30-32 degrees F in many places causing damage to warm season crops as well as landscapes across the upstate. Strawberry growers have slowed since the cool weather, but production will start to pick back up with warmer days and nights this week.”

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.”

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 – 11/16/20

Statewide

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.

Coastal

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.”

Yellow stippling appearance on strawberry leaflets from spider mite feeding damage. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

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.”

Heavy rains on Wednesday (11/11) saturated fields in the midlands. Luckily excess water doesn’t stick around long in sandy soil. Photo from Justin Ballew.
Pecan nut quality hasn’t been quite where we want it. The halves on the left filled out nicely while the ones on the right didn’t quite fill out. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

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.”

Upstate

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.”

Uneven growth possibly from drip tape not being centered under the plastic. Photo from Andy Rollins.
Dead tissue such as stems and leaves are the first to be colonized by Botrytis. Photo from Andy Rollins.

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 – 10/19/20

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “As we approach the time where strawberry plants will be delivered I would urge all growers to inspect plants before planting.  Whiteflies continue to be numerous along with caterpillars in fall brassica crops.  Scouting as always will remain very important.”

Zack Snipes reports, “Hide ya collards, hide ya tomatoes, they eatin’ everything! The Southern Armyworm is wreaking havoc on crops in the Lowcountry.  The Southern Armyworm is a heavy feeder on a wide range of crops.  They are dark in color, with yellow to cream colored horizontal lines and a reddish/orange head.  If inspected closely, one will find a yellow “Y” shape on their head.  I see this pest in fields with a variety of crops as well as weedy field borders.  We have a full offering of insecticides to battle this pest but remember to rotate insecticides each time you spray.  We are also finding some Tomato Yellow Leaf Curl Virus (TYLC) in tomato.  This virus is transmitted via the whitefly.  Strawberry cut-offs and plugs are going in.  Be sure to inspect roots and crown before planting.  Give me a shout if you need an extra pair of eyes to check them out.”

Two Southern Armyworm larvae that are just about large enough to pupate. Photo from Zack Snipes.
Tomato Yellow Leaf Curl Virus is showing up in Lowcountry tomatoes. This virus is vectored by the whitefly with the transmission happening a few weeks ago. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We had a welcome light rain towards the end of last week and the temperatures cooled off nicely. Strawberry planting has begun and is progressing well. Remember to supervise planting crews closely to make sure plants are being set at the proper depth. Now is also the time to get deer fences up. Once the plants develop new leaves, it won’t take the deer long to find them. We’re still seeing a fair amount of powdery mildew and downy mildew in cucurbits and anthracnose in pepper. Caterpillar populations remain high in brassicas as well.

Strawberry cutoffs are being watered in after being transplanted. Following transplanting, cutoffs need to be overhead watered for at least a week to keep the plants from drying out while new roots get established. Photo from Justin Ballew
We’re seeing a fair amount of anthracnose fruit rot on pepper in the midlands. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Greens are loving cool weather and growing well.  Very little disease or insect problems.  Large numbers of armyworm moths in some green fields but they are not feeding on greens but on the purslane, pigweed, and other weeds – control the weeds.  Sweet potatoes are being harvested as quickly as possible.  Many strawberries are planted – already seen some deer damage.  I have seen large fields of peas without a pea left on top of the plants – from deer damage.  Pickle harvest is finished for the year.  Cool weather is slowing bean and pea growth and production.  Agri-tourism is flourishing because people want to get out of the house.”

Weekly Field Update – 10/5/20

Coastal

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

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

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

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

Midlands

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

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

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

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

Pee Dee

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

Upstate

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

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

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

Weekly Field Update – 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.

Weekly Field Update 8/24/20

Statewide

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.”

Cucurbit downy mildew continues to spread across the state.

Coastal

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.”

Midlands

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.”

Bacterial spot and speck start on the bottom of the plant and can be splashed onto higher leaves and fruit by rain drops. Photo from Justin Ballew.
Start scouting for caterpillars as soon as your fall brassicas are planted. Photo from Justin Ballew

Pee Dee

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.”

Noble muscadines around 90% ripe. Photo from Bruce McLean.

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.”

Upstate

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.”

Weekly Field Update – 8/17/20

Statewide

Dr. Tony Keinath with a word on crop rotation. “To keep the soil on your farm productive over the long term, do not replant the same vegetable, or a related crop, in the same field “too often.” How often is “too” often depends on the crop and the pathogens present in the soil. Almost always, “too often” is less than 12 months between disking the old crop and planting the new crop. A general rule of thumb is 24 months between related crops, and in some cases, 36 months (3 years) is needed.

The main risk in replanting “too often” is building up root pathogens that survive in soil for years. Even in the heat, diseased roots and stems take several months to decay enough so they are not a source of pathogens. Thicker tissue, like the crowns of cantaloupe, can take 2 years to decay.

Another risk is foliar diseases that start on volunteers from the previous crop. The pathogens may be in or on some of the seed that sprouts, for example black rot on leafy brassica greens or gummy stem blight on cantaloupe and watermelon. A small number of infected volunteers means the disease has a head start right at the beginning of the crop.

Controls for soilborne pathogens (fungi, water molds, and nematodes) are limited.

  • Many vegetable crops have no resistance to these pathogens.
  • Fungicides do not penetrate soil well, or they are quickly inactivated.
  • Fumigants have many restrictions that require time-consuming record keeping and air monitoring.

Root-knot nematodes are a special problem, because they form galls on many vegetables and some field crops (cotton, for example) grown in rotation with vegetables. Summer cover crops of sunn hemp can lower nematode numbers. See https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/in892 for a list of other warm season cover crops that help manage nematodes.

Without crop rotation, more fungicide sprays will be needed, which raises the risk of fungicide resistance. Fungicides and fumigants are not a substitute for good crop rotation.”

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Many areas got a little more rain last week and we had a break from the heat over the weekend. We have a lot of the fall crop planted now including squash, zucchini, tomatoes, and brassicas. So far everything is mostly growing well. We are seeing bacterial wilt develop in some of the fall-planted tomato fields. Bacterial wilt loves hot soil temperatures, which is typical this time of year. Be sure to follow a proper crop rotation plan (at least 3 years) to help manage bacterial wilt buildup in fields. Since the heavy rain we got a few weeks ago, we’ve also seen plenty of bacterial spot in what’s left of the spring tomatoes.”

To test for bacterial wilt in tomatoes, place the cut stem in a jar of clean water. If the plant is infected, within about 30 seconds you will see milky, white bacterial ooze begin to stream from the stem. Photo from Justin Ballew.
Bacterial wilt commonly causes discoloration of the tissue within the stem. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Most summer vegetable crops are starting to wind down. Peas, okra, watermelon, cantaloupe still harvesting at some volume. Late summer/fall squash, cucumbers and tomato harvest are a couple weeks away. Fresh market muscadines are being harvested now. Juice and wine muscadines are getting close – maybe 7-14 days away, depending upon location. In most juice and wine muscadine vineyards, Carlos is around 40% colored (ripe), Noble is around 60%, and Doreen is around 25%. Grape root borer (GRB) flight is still occurring, with moderately high moth counts in traps.”

Eumorpha pandorus, a.k.a Pandorus Sphinx Moth caterpillar, found in the muscadine vineyard at Pee Dee REC. Photo from Bruce McLean.
‘Noble’ muscadines getting close to harvest. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “‘Another Crop Bites the Dust’ from spreader/stickers. I have seen too many farmers sing this sad song. Be careful and know what you are doing when adding a sticker/spreader when spraying vegetables. Short season, tender vegetable crops will burn very easy in our heat and do not have time to come back like long season row-crops. Our state’s second major watermelon/cantaloupe season is in full season in Chesterfield County. Harvest is in full swing and will continue until frost. Curculio sprays are beginning to be applied to the fall pea crop. Looks like pickle harvest will continue until frost.”