Weekly Field Update – 9/27/21

Coming up this Saturday (10/2/21) is a Waste Pesticide Collection Event held by the SCDA in York. Take a look at their news release here and take advantage of this event if you have any pesticides sitting around that you don’t expect to use.

Coastal Region

Zack Snipes reports, “We have had plenty of rain as of late in the Lowcountry. Many growers could not get in the fields due to fields being soggy. We have some beautiful weather coming this week so I expect a good bit of ground to be prepped and planted. We have plenty of moisture in the soil so those preemergent herbicides should have great efficacy if put down properly. I am seeing some odd yellowing symptoms of watermelon vines that lead to a collapse in the plant. We sent off samples to the Plant Diagnostic Lab. If you are suspicious of a plant disease, we can identify the disease for you. I also received a few calls this week about greenhouses. Before buying a greenhouse, consider retrofitting a shipping container. Thousands of transplants can be grown in a very small space which saves you money on your heating and cooling bill.”

A retrofitted shipping container for growing vegetable transplants at the CREC. Photo from Zack Snipes.
Thousands of transplants can be grown in near optimal conditions in a container. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We’ve really been enjoying the fall weather here in the midlands. We got some rain and the high temperatures have been in the upper 70s/low 80s. The majority of folks got their beds formed and plastic laid for strawberries last week. I’m getting some reports that strawberry nurseries are facing a tight supply this year. Hopefully, everyone got their orders in early. On brassicas, we’ve seen a significant increase in caterpillar population levels over the last week. That makes now a great time to run a field bioassay to screen for insecticide resistance in diamondback moth populations. Contact your local agent to schedule one.”

Tiny, oval, yellow-colored, diamondback moth eggs on the underside of a leaf of a week-old collard plant. Scout carefully as soon as plants go in the ground. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Phillip Carnley reports, “Brassica production is ramping up in Orangeburg and Calhoun and Clarendon counties. Diamondback caterpillar is making itself known in brassica crops, especially in collards. Make sure to scout early and treat in a timely fashion. If your insecticide program is not showing the desired level of control, talk with your local agent about scheduling a bioassay to assess your population’s resistance to different insecticides. Also, be on the lookout for black rot and other fungal problems in early transplants. Loopers seem to be a non-issue currently but stay vigilant in monitoring. I am still getting plenty of calls for pecans and the majority of the issues are pecan scab and yellow aphid damage, causing nut drop and premature defoliation. Also be mindful to monitor/ test for nematodes, in my area I am seeing population loading due to lack of cultural and chemical control. On blackberries, make sure to harvest in a timely manner and maintain a high level of sanitation, as there is plenty of spotted wing drosophila to go around.”

African Fig Flies (AFF)(with the white stripes) can invade small fruit crops simultaneously with spotted wing drosophila (SWD). Once the SWD cuts a hole in the fruit to lay an egg, the AFF comes along and lays an egg in the same hole. AFF can also invade strawberries and blackberries independent of SWD. Photo from Phillip Carnley.

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Last week’s rainfall really helped to moisten dry soils around the Pee Dee. Fall vegetable crops are coming along. Disease activity is low and insect activity is light to moderate. Surprisingly, diamondback moths have not been observed yet. Looper activity has been light to moderate on brassicas and cabbageworms have been observed in some fields. Aphids have been seen, as well. Stink bug activity has been moderate on okra. Okra harvest has begun to slow down, but decent volumes are still being harvested. Wine and juice muscadine harvest is complete, but some fresh market muscadines are still being picked in limited volumes. Most folks have bedded and fumigated for strawberries (… or will be this week). Talking to growers, it sounds like strawberry plants (plug and bare root) are getting a bit scarce… more so than normal for this time of the year. If you’re looking for some plants, you may have to go with varieties that you might not familiar with. Be sure to order early next year to get the varieties and volumes you need.”

Weekly Field Update – 9/13/21

Coastal Region

Zack Snipes reports, “We had a heavy downpour of rain last week surpassing 2.5 inches in some spots. I am seeing downy mildew in cucumbers and lots of gummy stem blight in winter squash and pumpkins. The worm pressure has lessened in the past few weeks. I am seeing lots and lots of black rot in transplanted brassicas. Inspect your plants before planting them to make sure the disease is not coming from the nursery. Once a brassica is planted in the field, there is not much we can do to slow the spread except hope that environmental conditions (rain, humidity) are not conducive to spread the disease. I am also seeing lots of early weed pressure in fall planted crops on both bare-ground and plastic. We have some very good herbicide options to apply preplant. Once you plant the crop, we have very few herbicides that can be used over the top of the crop. Right now is the time to get down strawberry herbicides before the season starts. As the old proverb goes: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Black rot on collard transplant (V-shaped lesion on the margin) just waiting for the right environmental conditions to decimate your yields. Photo from Zack Snipes.
A healthy stand of sunnhemp shades out most, if not all, summer weeds reducing the weed seed bank. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We received about an inch of rain (at my house), which we really needed. The temperatures over the last week have been very mild and it has started to feel like fall. Fall crops are doing well. We’re still planting brassicas and keeping an eye on caterpillars. Muscadines are being harvested now. Growers are reporting good fruit quality, but lower yields than last year. This is most likely due to the late cold weather that affected muscadine growers across the state. On pecans, black aphid populations and scab incidence are both high. It appears both of these pests are going to significantly reduce yield on sensitive varieties if growers didn’t stay on top of sprays.”

Pecan scab is severe this year. This disease can cause the tree to abort infected nuts. Photo from Justin Ballew
Black aphids are very small, but their damage is easy to see on the leaves. Photo from Justin Ballew

Weekly Field Update – 9/7/21

If you haven’t already done so, please take a few minutes to fill out a survey to share your thoughts with us on Extension meetings. We’ll be using the information collected to help plan meetings over the next year. It will take less than 10 minutes and is anonymous. Click here to get started. Thanks!

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We’re getting a little dry here in the midlands and folks have been running irrigation a lot. We got a shower last night (9/6) at my house, but it didn’t amount to much. Our fall crops are looking really good right now. The dry weather is holding down disease though we are still seeing some insects, mainly caterpillars. Squash, zucchini, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, turnips, and other brassicas are all growing pretty well.”

Fall zucchini ready to be picked. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Phillip Carnley reports, “Muscadine production is in its final stages here in Orangeburg and Calhoun counties with most growers preparing to harvest or in the process of harvesting. There is still a noticeable amount of angular leaf spot on many vines, but this late in the season, it is not much of an issue. Continue to keep an eye on the population of grape vine borer with the use of traps. Also keep an eye on water, as it is needed for nice plump fruit.

Small amounts of foliar diseases are present in muscadines. Photo from Philip Carnley.
Growers are preparing to harvest muscadines in Orangeburg and Calhoun counties. Photo from Philip Carnley.

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Soils are getting pretty dry in many locations. Even though dry weather would greatly benefit the muscadine growers, we could use a little rain. Vegetable crops are looking pretty good. Spider mite activity has increased over the last couple of weeks, especially on tomatoes. Bedding and fumigation (for strawberries) is getting ready to begin. Wine and juice muscadine harvest is upon us. Muscadine harvest is going to be a bit tricky this year. In many locations, half the crop is ready to pick and half the crop needs a little additional time, especially Carlos and Doreen cultivars. This is likely due to the late spring freeze that we experienced this year. Primary growth (that recovered from the freeze) is giving us a timely crop. Secondary growth (growth from secondary buds) is a little delayed. Watch harvesting too much under-ripe fruit. Under-ripe fruit does not contain the sugars or the juice, and will reduce your overall juice yield and total sugars.”

“Skirting the vines” is a common practice where the grower removes (by shearing) the excessive vegetative growth to allow the fruit to be more easily shaken from the vines during harvest. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Things have significantly slowed down in the Upstate with the Labor day weekend signaling the true end of summer. The growers who are doing fall vegetable production are in the thick of things with insect and disease monitoring of utmost importance. I would typically be posting about apples and the harvest for this season, but the late cold event from April 22, 2021 has put a significant damper on local orchards. Growers have apples available, but u-pick operations are very limited, if not cancelled for this season. Orchard management is imperative even when the trees are not producing, and can be a good opportunity to get weed control and pest management under control.”

Weekly Field Update – 8/30/21

Don’t forget to sign up for the Virtual Strawberry Production Meeting we will have this Thursday (9/2) at 6 PM. We will have speakers from Clemson, UGA, and NC State and we expect it to be a great program. Visit the Upcoming Events page to see a list of topics and click here to register.

Also, if you haven’t already done so, please take a few minutes to fill out a survey to share your thoughts with us on Extension meetings. We’ll be using the information collected to help plan meetings over the next year. It will take less than 10 minutes and is anonymous. Click here to get started. Thanks!

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We had a chance to dry out some this past week, though it really doesn’t take long with our sandy soil. Fields are still being prepped and planted for fall crops and what has been planted is doing well. We’ve been getting reports of high armyworm counts in pastures and row crops and we’ve been seeing some in vegetables also. Stay vigilant.”

Fall tomatoes are doing well in the midlands. Photo from Justin Ballew.
Armyworms, like this Southern Armyworm, have been showing up in pastures, row crops, and vegetable crops. Stay on top of scouting! Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “It’s getting into a transitional period for vegetable production. Cool season crops are starting to be planted (in volume), and warm season crops, like squash, zucchini, okra and peas, are still being harvested in some good volume. Fumigation for strawberries is getting ready to get started. Blueberry propagation (green-tip, semi-hardwood cuttings) is going on. Fresh market muscadines are busy being harvested. Wine and juice varieties of muscadines are getting close to harvest. Carlos and Noble are really coloring quickly. Doreen is just starting to color. Testing for sugar content (Brix) will begin this week to identify the correct harvest date for wine and juice muscadines.”

Nobel muscadines are coloring well.
Grape Root Borer on Carlos muscadine.

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Dry weather this last week was much needed after the significant rains from the week before. As many other areas across the state, armyworms reports and calls are coming in more and more each day. Stay vigilant with your scouting. As with many of our tree fruit and nut crops, the pecan harvest is looking to be pretty slim after the April 22nd cold event that affected many areas of the Upstate. Continue to monitor and treat for disease and insect populations so that next year the are not even more problematic. For bearing trees, now is the time to be monitoring and treating pecan weevil populations. Several specialists have also recommended monitoring and potentially treating non-bearing trees as well, if populations detected are high. While ideally, no pecans means the life-cycle for the pecan weevils would be incomplete, there are most likely enough pecans present in the tree to support some of the population. Check out the Pecan Management Guide for more information.”

Now is the time to monitor and tree pecan weevil populations.

Andy Rollins reports, “Bigred peaches are in the upstate and quality is amazing.  Use of pheremone ties Isomate OFM to exclude males from being able to find mates has been a huge success for late season peach.  Insecticides alone previous years even with adequate rotation did not prove successful. We have fall collard, broccoli and other brassicas being planted. Both hot and other peppers are being harvested in quantity despite excessive rains earlier in the year.  Squash and zucchini production is slowing with only limited late season plantings.  Nematode survey work is being done this week.”

Herbicide injury to peach trees.  Look out for your investments.  In this case a local cable company had spread a granular herbicide on the ground directly onto the rootzone of several peach trees adjacent to a power pole and a above ground cable box.  Check all of your borders of your plants regularly, especially where they meet up with a right-of-way or a neighbor.  This is normally not done intensionally but it does cause an economic impact larger than what you probably realize.  Clemson’s Department of Pesticide Regulation can help with these cases.

Weekly Field Update – 7/26/21

Statewide

The SC Specialty Crop Association is offering a new grant opportunity, the Enhancing Crop Packaging Cost-share Program. With this new cost-share program, growers can receive reimbursement up to $1,800 per grower for packaging needs. All that is required in addition to the application are copies of receipts used for purchasing packaging materials. You will also be required to fill out two surveys, one initially and one 12 months after submitting the application. All information is confidential. For more information, contact LauraKate McAllister. The application can be downloaded below.

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “We are in a summer weather pattern with warm, muggy days and occasional thunderstorms. Most crops have finished up or are in the process. Now is a great time to sit down and do some crop planning and field rotation planning. I collected many soil and root tissue samples lately and had them analyzed for nematodes. I was surprised at how many nematodes were present in the fields. Nematodes can interfere with growth, cause stunting, and lower overall yields. Sometimes the symptoms of nematodes can be very discrete so sampling right now is the best way to get a baseline of your populations and how to properly manage and rotate fields. If left unchecked, thousands of dollars are wasted before the first seed is planted into a field.”

Significant galling from root knot nematodes on a cucumber seedling. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “It was another fairly mild week with high humidity and some pretty decent rain. Not much has changed on the disease front. We’re still seeing plenty. Growers are still prepping fields for planting fall crops. Some fall cucurbits and brassicas have been planted already. More are on the way. As soon as brassicas go in the ground, start scouting for worms. Remember, we can perform bioassays to screen for insecticide resistance in diamondback moths populations. Reach out to your local fruit and vegetable agent when you start seeing worms to schedule one.”

Bacterial spot is common on tomatoes right now. Photo from Justin Ballew.
Recently planted kale is growing well. Start scouting for worms as soon as you plant brassica crops. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Vegetable crops are harvesting well, with good volumes of squash, zucchini, cantaloupe, watermelon, cucumber, butterbeans, peas, tomatoes and okra. Sweet corn is beginning to wrap up. Late season blueberries are still being harvested in some volume, but will be finishing soon. Muscadines are sizing well. Vineyards that were only slightly affected by the Easter freeze are looking good and should have a good crop. Vineyards that were more significantly affected by the freeze are very short on crop this year. Grape root borer traps in muscadine vineyards are starting to catch moths in all locations. Spotted wing drosophila (SWD) trap captures (in blueberries) have dramatically increased over the past few weeks, showing that even in late season when fruit is becoming less and less plentiful, the fly is still very active and must be managed.”

Bucket trap baited with the Grape root borer (GRB) pheromone lure in muscadines. Photo from Bruce McLean.
Where we did not see significant damage from the Easter freeze, there is a good looking crop of muscadines. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Upstate

Andy Rollins reports, “I identified a major scale problem on peaches. A grower from middle part of state called about red spots on peaches. Earlier in the year across the whole state we had red spots on leaves. We found prunus necrotic ring spot on all of those samples last year but we are still unsure of the origin. In this case, it is something much different. This is an insect that feeds on the fruit and the tree itself. The adult stage of this insect doesn’t move but the crawlers do. After consulting with Dr. Brett Blaauw, regional entomologist for Clemson, the grower decided to go ahead and treat now. On Friday, he sprayed Movento at the label rate. There is great concern because with this high of a population, the life of the entire trees at risk. The plan is to follow that application with chlorpyrifos and oil at low rates after the leaves drop. You have to be careful when doing this as the oil can damage the next years bud crop if temperatures are too hot. We will be trapping using black electrical tape wrapped around the limbs then double sided scotch tape around that. We will then look for the crawlers on the scotch tape. This ensures money isn’t wasted killing a pest that has already been controlled.”

Red spots have been common on peaches this year. Photo from Andy Rollins.
In this close up of the bark on a peach tree, you can see the tiny, black and grey colored scales. Photo from Andy Rollins.

Weekly Field Update – 6/14/21

The Coastal Research and Education Center Field Day is coming up this Thursday, June 17 beginning at 8:30. You must have registered to attend this year.

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “We received some welcomed rain but 5+ inches in a day or so was a bit much. Conditions this week will dry things out. I cannot stress enough how important it is to get out fungicides once you can get in the fields. I saw a few squash fields going downhill last week. Upon closer examination, I found thousands of squash bugs. They tend to congregate on the crown of the plant and will hide under the plastic when you look for them. 

Squash bugs can quickly take down a healthy squash crop. Photo from Zack Snipes.
Multiple life stages of the squash bug seen on this plant. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “More rain fell in the midlands this past week. We’re up to a little over 4 inches of rain at my house for the month of June, more than March and April combined. Some places have received much more. Crops have been loving the rain, but it does come with a cost. As expected, we’ve seen diseases pop up here and there. We’ve seen some Southern blight and bacterial wilt in tomato fields, fusarium in watermelons, and more black rot in brassicas. Weeds are loving the moisture as well. Keep up with fungicide applications, as diseases can get out of hand in a hurry in these conditions.

Southern blight developing at the base of a tomato plant. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Vegetable crops are growing well. Sweet corn, squash, cucumbers are being harvested in good volumes. Downy mildew was observed in a smaller planting of cucumbers. Powdery mildew was seen on a smaller planting of squash. Tomato harvest is just beginning. Blossom end rot has been an issue on some early tomatoes. This can be contributed to environmental stresses to the plants (high UV, extremely low humidity, high air temps) from a couple of weeks ago. Blueberries are being harvested in good volumes. The quality of the blueberries is good (for the most part), but a bit undersized. Blackberries are looking good, but botrytis (gray mold) is likely right around the corner. Muscadines are looking good in most locations. Even with the frequent rains, calyptra release has been good. Thrips activity has been low so far. Some early-season ALS (Angular leaf spot) is starting to show. Rally is a good product to control ALS. Some fields are getting a bit wet, limiting equipment and harvest activity in the field.

Placing a sheet of paper underneath the cordon of your muscadine vine and bumping the vine with your fist gives you a good opportunity to look at calyptra release, early fruit drop and thrips activity. Photo from Bruce McLean.
Japanese beetle activity in muscadines looks worse than it actually is. Japanese beetles are foliage feeders… and muscadines have more than enough foliage to spare. Japanese beetle typically are only a concern on newly planted vines. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “Peppers and tomatoes are rotting at bottom of the plants from too much rain. Belly rot and Pythium leak is bad on cucumbers. Pickleworm is here and needs to be controlled. Southern stem blight is getting bad on tomatoes. Peas that are flowering need to be sprayed for cowpea curculio. Lots of potassium phosphide, metalaxyl, and mefenoxam are being used to keep down rots. Started side dressing, laying by, applying bifenthrin, and boron to sweet potatoes.”

Upstate

Andy Rollins reports, “Bacterial canker of peach is much worse this year in the upstate. This disease is caused by a Pseudomonas sp. that is different than the bacteria that causes bacterial spot (Xanthomonas sp.). It is common in younger plantings, 3 to 6 years old. A common tell is dead blooms that remain on the tree. This is one of many sites where the bacteria will invade the plant. Fall pruning is a huge mistake as it creates even larger openings for bacteria to enter. This disease can be part of a disease complex (Peach tree short life) or can act independently. The presence of ring nematode would contribute in this case. Cold damage from southwest injury to the trunks is very common and also provides entry. Unfortunately, there is very little that can be done to remedy this problem after being found. Trying to limit the above mistakes is helpful and some research has shown positive results from painting pruning wounds. Other Rutgers research recommended early winter copper applications for bacterial canker in cherry.

A young peach tree suffering from bacterial canker. Photo from Andy Rollins.
Bacterial canker can significantly reduce the life of peach trees. Photo from Andy Rollins.

Weekly Field Update – 5/24/21

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “As we mentioned last week, cucurbit downy mildew has been confirmed in cucumber crops locally. All cucurbit growers should be applying downy-mildew specific fungicides such as Ranman tank mixed with either chlorothalonil or mancozeb. Other pests and disease levels in cucurbits remain low. Tomatoes and peppers are developing well with good fruit development and low pest and disease pressure. A little bacterial spot is beginning to show in untreated crops. Applications of mancozeb or copper can help to hold the disease. Note applications are unlikely to “cure” bacterial disease. Fruit crops continue to progress with good quality and low disease. Strawberries are showing a little botrytis and anthracnose, but this is at a low level. Peaches are coming to market along with blueberries and blackberries.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Dry weather has returned to the midlands. Strawberries have slowed down and while we’re still picking a few, we are seeing very few blooms. The heat we’re expecting this week is likely to cease bloom production. The heat could be a problem for tomato and cucurbit pollination as well, as we may see some blooms die. Brassicas have been growing well. There has been an increase in diamondback moth activity over the last week. If you start seeing large DBM populations on your farms, contact your local agent about doing a bioassay to test for insecticide resistance. This is a great way to figure out which materials may work best on your farm. We don’t charge anything for this service. Don’t forget downy mildew was found this past week in cucumber in multiple places in the coastal plain, so it’s time to start preventative fungicide sprays in cukes if you haven’t already.”

An adult diamondback moth has just finished pupating and has not yet dispersed. Remember, insecticide applications should target the larval form rather than the moths. Photo from Justin Ballew

Sarah Scott reports, “We are in full swing with early variety peach harvest. Some peaches are developing a little smaller in size partly due to previous cold weather events. Something spotted in the field has been some nutrient deficiency. Growers may have been tempted to dial down nitrogen or calcium nitrate applications on peach blocks that suffered cold damage as they thought those blocks would not produce a viable harvest, however this could lead to leaf drop and less reserves for next year’s crop. If you skipped out on some of your fertilization keep in mind yellowing, spotting and leaf drop could occur. A soil application of calcium nitrate at 30lb/acre now and another in late July can help those trees recover some foliage and build up a nutrient supply for next year’s reserve. Be careful if you want a quick result and try foliar applications, as this could burn the leaves and cause more drop that you may not be able to afford.”

Nitrogen deficiency on a mid season peach variety. Photo from Sarah Scott
Discoloration from nitrogen deficiency looks similar to copper burn but has smoother edges and more rounded spots on leaves. A nutrient analysis can be taken around July to determine accurate levels. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Irrigated vegetables are looking good for the most part. Seeing some stress to tomatoes with a heavy fruit load – likely from very low humidity and very high UV. Nonirrigated crops are starting to show some drought stress. Strawberries are starting to wind down. Blueberries are finally starting to be harvested, much later than usual. Blooming on muscadines appears to really stretched out due to the Easter freeze. Early flower clusters on growth from primary buds appears to be somewhat on time. But, flower clusters developing from secondary buds are really behind… possibly 3-4 weeks (easily). Soil is really starting to get dry in many areas.”

Green beans are really coming along. Photo from Bruce McLean
Now is a good time to walk the fields and pull weeds. Over-the-top herbicides are limited for most vegetable crops, and often hand weeding is the only viable option. Vigorous weeds like pigweed can quickly overtake a field. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “The higher temperatures have started to speed-up crops. We will start to harvest pickles this week. Spraying downy mildew fungicides on cucurbits. Some farmers are starting to apply insecticide for pickleworm. They don’t want to put out insecticides this early but they see the gamble of an entire field of pickles being rejected because of 1 pickleworm as too much of a gamble. These farmers think we need a system set-up to detect pickleworm in the southern part of the state to give them a better indication of when pickleworm arrives. Harvesting greens, cabbage, and broccoli as quickly as possible. Started planting sweetpotatoes. Many farmers getting deer depredation permits for peas, beans, and sweetpotatoes. Also, many farmers are applying acephate and dimethoate to control thrips with the added benefits of repelling deer. Peppers and tomatoes are begin to load with fruit. Many farmers still harvesting strawberries.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Things in the ‘Golden Corner’ are looking up for vegetable producers, despite the dismal projection for tree fruit crops because of the cold events in April. For market growers, cool season crops are at their absolute last with 90+ degree temps forecasted for this week. Warm season crops are starting to really get growing, and many growers are starting to see some potential harvests this week. With higher than normal temps projected, make sure irrigation is consistent, scheduled and set for early morning to avoid leaf wetness late in the day and overnight and reduce disease incidence.”

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 – 2/22/21

Don’t forget to check out the Upcoming Events page for all the meetings coming up over the next couple months. The next meeting will be this Thursday (2/25) from 2-4 pm about Apple Production. We hope to see you there!

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “Another rainy, wet, and cold week last week.  Some sunshine and warmer temperatures coming this week.  All of our fruit crops have received their chill hours and are just waiting to burst out for spring.  I expect to really see fruit crops take off this week.  Make sure that you have a fertility plan for the spring crop.  Don’t let your crop be without fertility at the critical moments. For more information on fruit fertility visit https://smallfruits.org/ipm-production-guides/.  For smaller farms, Clemson’s Home Garden and Information Center is a wonderful resource as well.”

Early varieties of highbush blueberries are in bloom right now. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “To say last week was wet would be an understatement. We received about 4 inches of rain at my house last week and the ground was already saturated before it started. I’ve seen water standing even in sandy fields. On the bright side, irrigation ponds are looking full. Most strawberry growers have covered their fields to protect the blooms now. This means we should start seeing our first ripe fruit around mid-March. Don’t forget to start tissue sampling so we can make sure the plants are getting everything they need as they are beginning to produce fruit.”

Row covers on a strawberry field protect the blooms from late winter/early spring cold. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Wet, wet, wet… Last week’s rain has cause some significant ponding and flooding throughout the Pee Dee. Last week, I had a number of conversations with growers concerning application of fumigants for early crops – timing, too wet, how effective? Not a lot of good options with soil moisture being so high, right now. We really need some sunshine and a steady breeze to help dry fields out. Wet fields are preventing spraying, hindering application of row covers and hindering pruning of perennial crops (blueberries, muscadines, and blackberries). Some crops are starting to “back up” due to the wet soils. An application of mefenoxam (Ridomil) or phosphorous acid (K-phite), in locations where root rot is suspected, would be beneficial.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “A beautiful weekend of weather was much needed for tree fruit growers getting in orchards and finishing up dormant pruning for the year. Pruning out dead, diseased, and damaged limbs, opening the canopy, and reducing overall vegetative growth is extremely important for tree fruit integrated pest management (IPM). Pruning increases light penetration and air movement, reducing disease potential, and also allows for better spray coverage during application. More rain today and even more projected toward the end of the week will continue to delay any kind of field work, as the ground is oversaturated. Don’t forget, this Thursday is the SC Apple Grower Meeting via Zoom from 2-4pm! Check it out on the upcoming events page!

Andy Rollins reports, “Found major scale problem on large scale muscadine producer’s farm. Scale was identified on the main scaffolds and also on last years wood. Mineral oil (Damoil) is labeled but is recommended at much lower rate than other fruits. Only 1% by volume or 1 gallon per 100 gallons of water, but needs 200 gallons of total solution applied per acre to get sufficient coverage. This is because the oil needs to get into very tight areas where the scale can reside. We also recommended the use of a labeled insecticide with the oil to increase efficacy. Once the plants come out of dormancy other products are available but determination will be made at that time if necessary. Peach and strawberry production had no major issues to address.  One strawberry farm began picking the last week of January this year in high tunnel production and picked 30 flats of fruit and is still producing.

Scale on the main scaffolds of muscadines. Photo from Andy Rollins.
Up close view of scale on muscadine scaffolds. 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.