Weekly Field Update – 3/1/21

Don’t forget to check out the Upcoming Events page for all the meetings coming up over the next couple months. The next meetings will be the 2nd and 3rd peach sessions on Thursday 3/4. We hope to see you there!

Also, join us Tuesday from 11:30 to 12:00 for the new, weekly “SC Grower Exchange” where we’ll discuss a little more about what’s going on in the fields and take questions from the audience. Click here to join the discussion via Zoom.

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “Following a few days of warmer conditions, crops are moving on strongly. Flowering and fruit set is occurring in strawberry crops. At present spider mites in treated crops are at very low populations, but with warmer weather, populations can increase rapidly. As we are entering flowering and fruit set, sanitation and fungicide applications will be required to keep gray mold managed. Remember to rotate FRAC codes to avoid resistance build up. Fertigation is being applied and it will be well worth while taking a tissue test from crops. Blueberries in the area are showing bud swell with early varieties showing open flower.”

Zack Snipes reports, “With the warm and DRY weather last week and for most of the week this week, farmers have been able to get out and work in the fields. Spring crops are going in the ground where it is dry enough to plant. The warm weather this past week and this coming week will probably push 2020 brassicas to bolt (flower). If you have any left in the fields, it might be best to get them out as soon as possible. Stay on top of sanitation for berries and it’s time to start fertigating them if you haven’t started that already.”

Warm weather can cause collards that have grown through the winter to bolt (flower). This plant is just beginning to develop a flower head. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We had several beautiful, warm days last week. Strawberry growers used that opportunity to pull the row covers off the fields, allowing the plants to catch some rays. Growth is starting to pick up and I’m seeing a good many blooms. The weather conditions are favorable now for Botrytis development (high moisture and temps in the 60s-70s), so we need to begin protecting our blooms with preventative fungicide sprays. Check out this great video put together by Dr. Guido Schnabel’s former student Madeline Dowling for a refresher on the Botrytis life cycle. Download the MyIPM app for more disease and fungicide information. Now is also a good time to start tissue sampling to make sure we’re fertigating the right amounts of nutrients.

Starting to see plenty of blooms on the strawberries around the midlands. Photo from Justin Ballew.
This dead flower is already developing Botrytis spores. Spore development is high when temperatures are in the 60 to 70 degree range and moisture is high. Start protecting blooms now. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Growers took advantage of some sunny, dry weather and continued to apply copper and dormant oil sprays in peach fields to combat potential bacterial spot issues, as well as scale in the coming season. Pruning and orchard floor management continue as well as some late planting, due to wet field conditions. Strawberries have been covered to give them a pre-season push. Some mite issues are present but under control.”

Workers apply a dormant oil application on peach field in Edgefield Co. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Growers are working between the rains to finish up pruning. The SC Apple Grower meeting was held on Thursday afternoon virtually with lots of great presentations and discussion. During the meeting, Dr. Mike Parker (NCSU) mentioned the distinct difference in apple and peach pruning, and how using the same crews can sometimes lead to problems. Peaches fruit laterally along limbs which means heading cuts (pruning off the tip of a branch) is the common and acceptable practice.  Where as apples fruit terminally, so heading cuts could potentially remove a significant amount of potential fruit. Make sure crews are well aware of the difference!”

Pruning apples at Hollifield’s Orchard with pneumatic pruners. Photo from Kerrie Roach.

Weekly Field Update – 2/15/21

Don’t forget to check out the Upcoming Meetings page for all the meetings coming up over the next couple months. There are 2 coming up this week: Strawberry Fertility Wednesday (2/17) and Produce Safety Rule Training on Thursday and Friday afternoon (2/18 and 2/19).  We hope to see you there!

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “I haven’t been out in the fields lately due to all of the rain. Hopefully it will dry out some this week as we really need some bluebird sky days. If and when you are able to get out in the strawberry fields, it is time to put out boron. Boron helps with flower and fruit development. If you miss this application you will have lots of “bull nose” fruit in a few weeks. We recommend 1/8 lb of actual boron. Please see the picture for calculations of different products. Be extremely careful with mixing, calibrating, and applying boron as boron is a great herbicide if overapplied. Boron can be sprayed or run through the drip system.

Be sure to put out the correct amount of boron. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “It’s been raining a lot since Thursday (2/11) here in the midlands. The soil is saturated in some of the less sandy areas and it will be a while before fields are dry enough to work. Sandier areas likely won’t be delayed much. Before the rain came, folks were harvesting some nice looking greens, though I am seeing some disease pop up in places. Strawberries are still coming along. I know of one fairly large grower that has already started protecting blooms. More will probably start soon.”

Good looking mustard ready for picking. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “It has been extremely wet throughout Aiken and Edgefield Counties the past week, making field work challenging. In peach orchards, we are continuing to prune and trying to get out dormant oil applications and copper. It appears there is a shortage of Captan this year. There are alternatives for use during bloom as well as at petal fall, just something to look into if you usually use this product. You can read about some alternatives here https://site.extension.uga.edu/peaches/2021/02/captan-shortage/ . Again, it looks like we will have plenty of chill hours for the crop this year with Musser Farm sitting at over 1000 and around 950 hours in Johnston.”

Weekly Field Update – 2/8/21

Don’t forget to check out the Upcoming Meetings page for all the meetings coming up over the next couple months. There are 3 coming up this week: Small Fruits this evening (2/8), Peaches on Thursday afternoon (2/11), and Brassicas Thursday evening (2/11).  We hope to see you there!

Statewide

Dr. Matt Cutulle reports, “With the cold temperatures we have been consistently having, it might be good to use Prefar or Dacthal for PRE herbicides instead of Treflan in new collard plantings to avoid injury.”

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Last week was pretty cool and it looks like this week will be about the same. Things are a little slow in the fields, but folks are preparing land for spring plantings and harvesting a little mustard, collards, and herbs. Strawberry growers are still working on sanitizing. Now is also a good time to make sure drip systems are hooked up and ready to go when it’s time to start fertigating. Deer are still wearing out the plants in some fields. Temporary deer fences aren’t that expensive and they can pay for themselves by preventing the degree of damage seen in the photo below.”

This picture was taken last Thursday (2/4). After 3 and a half months in the ground, these plants should be significantly larger, but the deer are wearing them out. A fence should have been used here. Photo from Justin Ballew.
Busted feeding on strawberry leaves. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Upstate

Andy Rollins reports, “We are still in the middle of establishing new peach orchards and inspecting strawberry plantings. I met with new and experienced growers and want to point out most common mistake made. Strawberry wise, I found mites on only one farm growing chandler plugs. Some of the mites were still in diapause (hibernation) and will be orangish in color but there were plenty of active adults and eggs out as well on that farm. Expensive miticides are not effective if mites are not present. The most common mistake made in planting peaches is planting them too deep. To look at the picture below, you wouldn’t think anything was wrong, but the first main root is actually about 4 inches too deep. Please make sure when you are finished planting that the first main root is within the top inch of the soil. An easy way to tell they are too deep is if they have created a hole around the stem from wind movement. Anywhere you are growing in heavier clay soil this becomes even more important. We are still spraying oil and copper on peaches and probably will continue till bloom.

This peach tree was planted about 4 inches too deep. Photo from Andy Rollins.
If trees are planted too deep they will create a hole in the soil around them as they move in the wind. Photo from Andy Rollins.

Weekly Field Update – 1/25/21

Don’t forget to check out the Upcoming Events page for all the meetings coming up over the next couple months. The next one is this Wednesday evening (1/27/21) from 6 to 8:30 and will be about tomato and pepper production. We hope to see you there!

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “Strawberry crops in the area are looking good with good crown development. We are seeing open flowers and some fruit set based on warmer conditions. These crops are cause for some concern as we are likely to see damage from forecast cold snaps. There is evidence of botrytis (gray mold) in crops on cold damaged flowers and fruit. Sanitation can really help to mitigate the spread of the disease. Spider mites remain active and in places are requiring treatment. Remember to avoid pyrethroids for mite control as these can flare mite populations.”

Zack Snipes reports, “The three components of the disease triangle are a conducive environment, the host plant present, and a virulent pathogen.  With that being said; It has been pretty wet as of late, we have warmer weather coming this week, and I have seen pathogens in our fields.  I fully expect some diseases to really take hold and start to spread this week.  For strawberries, make sure to clean dead tissue (leaves, blooms, fruit, etc) and for other crops removal of dead tissue and a preventative fungicide application (conventional or organic) can really help you get ahead of the fight against diseases.  Also, my pet peeve…get your deer fences up!!!! This is the time of year that deer run out of food (and corn piles) and will meander into your strawberries and eat thousands of dollars’ worth of profits.”

The two-tiered fencing system, like the one shown in this trail cam photo, will keep curious deer out of your fields. Deer Fencing.  Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “This past week was a little warmer and more sunny, but not by much. Crops are still growing slowly as a result. I’m seeing a lot of deer damage in strawberry fields that boarder the woods. Nothing reduces yield potential in strawberries faster than deer. Once they start nibbling leaves off, those plants will always be behind and they’ll never yield the same as a healthy, undamaged plant. Keep in mind that wildlife in the field is also a significant food safety risk. Once we get into bloom, this will become a major concern. Fencing is the most effective means of keeping deer out of the field. Fencing doesn’t have to be expensive or permanent. Check out this publication.”

Look at all those stems where leaves used to be. The deer have set these plants way back and they will never catch up. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “New plantings of peach trees are going in along the Ridge. A weather station went up in Johnston at one of our variety trials this past fall and we are watching to see chilling hours accumulated. Currently we are at 714 chill hours and 43 chill portions looking at temperatures between 32 and 45 degrees. The upstate at the Musser location is sitting at 773 chill hours and 46 chill portions. It’s looking like we will have no problem meeting all of our chilling requirements for the season.”

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “I keep finding more strawberry fields with spidermites.  Some fields are damaged or devastated by deer.  If you ever let deer get a taste of strawberry plants it is very difficult or almost impossible to stop them.”

Upstate

Andy Rollins reports, “Strawberry plants are doing well in the upstate of SC. Some plants are smaller than others mainly due to planting time. Growers need to look for uneven growth with in a field which can be indication of root rot. Also, some growers are spraying Rovral because of early dead blooms producing excessively high amounts grey mold. Some are using it with Captan others with Thiram. Thiram would give some deer deterrence. Growers need to be very careful with covers this time of year. They can force even more unwanted early blooms. Remember 18 degrees hurts crown 30 degrees kill blooms. So we are still in the protect plant time, not the protect bloom time. There are several farms planting peach trees now and still others finishing ground preparations. We also have a new pecan farm whose trees I was able to inspect and help with last minute details before planting this week. I hope and pray all of you stay safe amid the Covid19 pressure around us. The loss of a farming friend and leader of men, Mr. Ervin Lineberger will be greatly missed.”

Strawberries are looking good in the Upstate. Photo from Andy Rollins.
Strawberries are looking good in the upstate. Photo from Andy Rollins.

Weekly Field Update – 1/4/21

Happy New Year! We hope everyone had a great holiday season and is off to a good start in 2021. We have several virtual grower meetings coming up over the next two months, so keep an eye on the “Upcoming Events” page for info. Also, don’t forget the Southeastern Regional Fruit and Vegetable conference kicks off virtually this week and it’s not too late to register.

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “Firstly I would like to wish everyone a happy ,and successful 2021.   Crops in the area have slowed down with the cooler weather and we are seeing a reduction in caterpillar activity. Strawberries look good however it would be advisable in advanced crops to remove any flowers to reduce the botrytis pressure later in the season. Winter vegetables are looking very good with low levels of Alternaria leaf spot in some crops. If in doubt scout.

Zack Snipes reports, “One of my New Year’s Resolutions this year is to be more proactive rather than reactive.  I would like to extend that mentality to my field work as well.  This year I really want to help growers nip problems in the bud before they become problems.  Weekly calls, texts, check-ups, and regular visits can help both of us achieve our goals.  Give me a shout in 2021.”

Let’s work together before this happens. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We’ve had a lot of rain to start off the new year. A day or so after Christmas we saw temperatures down in the low 20’s and ended up with some cold damage on greens. They should grow out of it just fine. Strawberries are coming along. We are seeing spider mites build up in places, requiring treatment. Keep scouting regularly, even though it’s cool outside. Let me know if you need a second pair of eyes. On another note, I noticed daffodils starting to come up in my yard a few days before Christmas. Can’t ever remember seeing them emerge that early.”

Cold damage on mustard greens from the recent dip into the low 20s. Photo from Justin Ballew.
The view of spider mites on the underside of strawberry leaf through a 10X hand lens. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Field preparation for new peach tree plantings is underway along the Ridge. Some growers are using a plow to make berms to plant trees on to aid in disease management issues such as armillaria root rot. Lots of rain in the past week has made for muddy conditions.”

Freshly plowed peach field with berms for planting. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Very few greens undamaged after the cold if they weren’t either covered or protected in some way.  Strawberries are doing well. I hope there is not and I have not seen any cold damage of the crowns in the Pee Dee. I had 1 account where coyotes were biting through the row-covers to eat ripe strawberries.”

Weekly Field Update – 12/7/20

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!

Coastal

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.

Many crops have a waxy surface that cause pesticide mixtures to bead up on the plant.  The use of a spreader-sticker would have helped these pesticide droplets spread out and stick to the leaf which helps overall efficacy of your product. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

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.”

Due to a warm fall, several strawberry fields have developed some early blooms that have been/will be killed by the cold. Be sure to sanitize these blooms to keep grey mold from having dead tissue to develop on. Photo from Justin Ballew.
As the cold weather has finished off other fall crops, growers will be focusing more on greens now. This mustard is off to a great start. Photo from Justin Ballew.

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.”

Field Update – 7/20/20

Statewide

Dr. Matt Cutulle reports, “It is always good to control goosegrass even if it is past the critical period for competition with the crop. Lack of late-season control made hand-harvesting tomatoes difficult in the field pictured below. Also, there will be a huge deposit of goosegrass seeds into the soil seed bank for next year unless the seeds are destroyed after the harvest.”

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Late season goosegrass growth can make harvest difficult and contribute lots of seed to the seed bank, which will have to be dealt with in future crops. Photo from Dr. Matt Cutulle.

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “We experienced a nice hot week of weather in the Lowcountry.  Most crops are finishing up with the heat and recent rains.  On later season tomato I have seen bacterial leaf spot on the fruit which makes fruit unmarketable.  I am seeing this on the second cluster of fruit set and not on the first or third clusters.  Hemp seems to be off to the races and looking pretty good so far.  There are within every hemp field occasional wilted, stunted, and yellowed plants.  These plants always have a weak root system and most of the time have girdling and interveinal discoloration.  Peppers and eggplants are loving this heat and are producing in high volumes.”

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Bacterial leaf spot showing up on the second set of fruit on the tomato plant. Photo from Zack Snipes. 

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Wilting of hemp is very common and often sporadic throughout fields. Photo from Zack Snipes

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Last week was hot and mostly dry, though we did have some scattered thunderstorms come through over the weekend. Field prep for fall crops continues. We’ve had some fall tomatoes, peppers, and brassicas transplanted already and more to come this week. Everything is growing pretty fast right now and we’re still picking spring crops. Keep an eye out for spider mites, as they love the hot, dry weather we’ve had lately.”

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Fall tomatoes transplanted in Lexington this past week. Photo from Justin Ballew

Sarah Scott reports, “We are still ahead of schedule on peach varieties being harvested.  Early August Prince and August Prince are being picked now which is over a week earlier than usual. The fruit quality is still good with slightly smaller than ideal fruit.  With the extreme heat and lack of rain in the past week, summer crops like tomatoes and cucumbers are looking rough. Bell peppers are doing well.”

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An Edgefield County grower assessing his Early August Prince orchard. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Sweet potatoes are looking good. Establishment seems to be very good for the most part. Long green cucumbers, yellow squash, zucchini, cantaloupe, peas, okra, and sweet corn are harvesting well. Condition is good to very good. Sweet corn will be wrapping up shortly. Blueberries are pretty much finished, with only a few remaining fruit on Powderblue. Fruit condtion is fair to good. Muscadines are coming along nicely and appear to have an excellent crop. Fresh muscadines should be beginning harvest soon, with wine/juice grapes still a few weeks from harvest. Be on the lookout for Grape root borer moths. They are starting to emerge. They were being caught in traps placed in vineyards in Marion and Horry counties.

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Grape root borer moths being caught in a bucket-style trap. Photo from Bruce McLean.

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No, this is not a paper wasp. It is a grape root borer moth. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “Harvested first crop of processing peppers. Continuing to pick and plant pickles. Processing greens are over for the spring crop. Harvesting the first crop of processing and seed peas and planting fall crop.  Getting processing tomatoes out of the field as quickly as the plant can take them.  Things are drying out, hope we don’t go into drought with the heat.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Spotty rain and high temperatures have left many small growers scrambling for irrigation options throughout the Upstate. Peaches and nectarines are still being harvested. Blueberries are just about finished, and farmers’ market produce is starting to wind down with the heat. Apples should begin next week with early varieties like ‘Ginger Gold’  and ‘Golden Supreme’.”

Andy Rollins reports, “Plenty of early blight, bacterial spot/speck on tomatoes this season, but some of the more troublesome problems have been various tomato virus problems. When diagnosing virus problems it is important to get lab verification because herbicide injury can look very similar when just going by visual symptoms. If you suspect herbicide drift from a neighboring farm. Look for damage to other broadleaf plants in the area in between the suspected source and the damaged plants. Follow the wind direction.  You should have more severe damage on the leading edge. Also, herbicide residual from a previous crop like sunflowers can also give you herbicide damage that you did to yourself. Read and follow all pesticide label directions. There are plant back restrictions on some herbicides so be careful. If this is the case the damage should be fairly consistent/uniform throughout the area that was planted in the other crop.

Unlike both of these other situations, virus problems may come from your seed source, the greenhouse where plants were grown, or from weeds in the field. Pokeweed is commonly a source, as are many other broadleaf weeds. Thrips, aphids, and whiteflies are all known to vector viruses into plants. Symptoms are what you see below with “shoestring” looking leaves, leaves with distorted veins, and mosaic yellow and green coloration. There are many viruses that infect plants. Each of them can show different symptoms and also they can each look different on other plants as well. It’s even possible for a healthy-looking plant with no symptoms to be infected with several viruses.”

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“Shoestring” type leaf distortion may be a symptom of a virus or herbicide damage. Get confirmation from the plant disease lab. Photo from Andy Rollins.

Field Update – 7/13/20

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “Summer crops are all but about done. The afternoon thunderstorms, humidity, and heat have just about finished off the tomato and watermelon crops. Growers are getting fields ready for the fall season now. Consider putting up deer fencing now before crops are planted.

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A field of squash on Johns Island protected with a two-tiered poly fence. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We got some more rain early in the week and the sky was overcast most of the week. Downy mildew finally showed up here in cucumbers. Even though it’s been found all over the coast, it took a while to make it this far inland this year. The dry weather we had most of the month of June may have had something to do with that. Anyone growing cucurbits from now through the fall definitely needs to be applying preventative fungicides. Lots of fields are transitioning from spring crops to fall crops right now. We’re still picking sweet corn, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, zucchini, cucumbers, etc.”

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Dark-colored downy mildew spores on the underside of a cucumber leaf. Photo from Justin Ballew

Lalo Toledo reports, “Sweet potatoes are in the ground and thriving. Please be aware of any pest activity and disease activity. Weeds are becoming a problem, especially in organic operations. However, there are several options to suppress weeds. Please contact your extension agent for information on chemical and cultural practices. Hemp is having trouble taking off with so much heat and weeds are gaining ground on it. Peppers are doing great with some minor bacterial lesions.”

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Hemp field with nutgrass (organic operation). Photo from Lalo Toledo.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Poured rain every day last week – awful.  Processing peas are ready to harvest but cannot get a dry period to burn down to harvest.  Need to get second crop processing peas planted before August if fields will ever dry out – don’t forget to control thrips early and do your best to keep deer out of fields.  Processing tomatoes & peppers are being harvested.  Pickling cucumbers are continually being harvested and replanted.  Sweet potatoes are planted, most have been laid-by, many have vines covering beds, and some are starting to size potatoes.  We may have some insect damage on roots since it is difficult to get bifenthrin applied and plowed-in.  Hopefully, the Lorsban will control insects, and since it is too wet to plow until the rain can wash the bifenthrin into the soil to keep the sun from degrading it.  Don’t forget the boron on sweet potatoes.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Peaches are the showstopper this week in the Upstate! Even with what appears to be late cold damage causing split pits and some varieties not to ripen, the peach crop is still booming. Apples are maturing on schedule and growers should begin harvesting early varieties over the next few weeks. With limited and spotty rain events over the last seven days, irrigation has been vital for vegetable producers…. but heat and humidity (despite the overall lack of rain) has increased the need for fungicide cover sprays, as we’ve seen various fungal activity picking up across the board.”

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Peaches are coming in and are looking great in the upstate. Photo from Kerrie Roach.

Field Update – 7/6/20

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “It was a warm week with some sprinkled in showers along the coast. All crops are coming in right now with heavy watermelon volume. What’s left of the tomato crop is ripening fast. As far as pests go, I have seen a good amount of bacterial leaf spot in pepper, squash bugs and cucumber beetles in squash, and spider mites on beans, tomato, and melon.”

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Squash bugs and their bronze eggs on a zucchini. Photo from Zack Snipes.

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Spider mite activity has increased with the warm weather and a missed spray or two.  Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We got a little more rain last week and the temperatures were a little warmer than previous weeks. We’re still harvesting tomatoes, sweet corn, peppers, eggplant, peaches, squash, zucchini, beans, etc. Since the environment has been warm and wet, we’re starting to see diseases pick up. Seeing lots of powdery mildew and anthracnose on cucurbits and bacterial spot on tomatoes. Stay on your fungicide programs and rotate modes of action as much as possible. I’ve also been getting some reports of heavy spider mite activity on tomatoes.”

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We are seeing lots of bacterial spot show up in tomatoes following the recent rain. Photo from Justin Ballew

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Spider mites generally feed on the lower side of tomato leaves and cause a stippling appearance. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “We’ve had hot and, for the most part, somewhat dry conditions in the past week. Some areas received an inch of rain but it was very spotty. Tomatoes, peppers, squash, corn, cucumbers, and melons are all being harvested now.  Plums, peaches, and nectarines are also still being picked. The peach crop is about 10 days ahead of schedule.”

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Peaches are looking good and coming in a little early. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Vegetable crops are maturing nicely, even though some are exhibiting heat stress from the recent hot weather. Cucurbit Downy Mildew (on cucumbers) has been reported throughout the Pee Dee Region. Powdery Mildew is widespread on zucchini and yellow squash. Sweet corn is looking good, with good volumes being produced. Tomatoes, other than being stressed from the heat and the humidity, look pretty good and are bearing well. Sweetpotatoes are still being planted. Muscadines are beginning to size and look to be a very good crop. Blueberries are winding down, with only the latest varieties being harvested now.”

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Tomato plant showing some stress from the heat and humidity of summer. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “Processing peppers and tomatoes are beginning to be harvested and they look good.  With all the early winds and excessive rain, it was difficult but as my daddy would say “we made a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.” Second and third crop pickles are yielding much better than the weather-beaten first crop. Processing peas will begin harvest this next week, so we badly need some dry weather but the forecast is not favorable.  Also, the amount of cowpea curculio is increasing rapidly and an intense/timely spray program is needed to prevent what most call “stings (maggots) in the peas.”  One grower got slack on his spray program and this week had to discard $6,000 worth of peas. Spray with a pyrethroid at or before the first flower, then every week until flowering is finished.  The first spray is the most important because if you wait too late, the curculios are already in the field.  Curculios are very hard to kill. When disturbed they ball-up inside their protective coat, and your spray is repelled. My program repels them and attempts to keep them out of the field. Also, rotation is very important to keep down the population of curculios surrounding your fields.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Upstate peaches are beginning to ripen! While exciting, we have seen some physiological issues with sizing and softening that we attribute back to a late-season cold spell. While the peaches originally appeared to pull through without damage, we are now seeing peaches that are not sizing and those that do size up, only ripen on the very outer portion. It is a waiting game to see how each variety ends the season. In the meantime, market vegetable production is in full swing and the apple crop is looking fabulous.”

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Some peaches in the upstate are not sizing up properly, probably due to the late cold spells in the spring. Photo from Kerrie Roach.

Field Update – 6/15/20

Statewide

The video below is from Vegetable Weed Specialist Matt Cutulle. It shows a flame weeder attachment killing weeds around the edges of a field. The person walking behind the tractor is using a flame weeder with a propane tank on his back. These are good options for weed control in organic fields.

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “It’s the time of year when crops are starting to look ugly.  We are in the middle of tomato harvest and it seems to be a pretty good crop this year.  Bacterial spot is starting to spread up the plants due to a heavy fruit set, perfect weather, the inability to spray, and constant handling by pickers. Keep up with spray programs as the last few weeks of development are critical to size and taste.  Rabbiteye blueberries are coming in strong right now and look really good with the occasional berry having Exobasidum. Stink bug pressure has been very high this year and I’m seeing damage on a multitude of crops.”

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It is critical to know the difference between Southern Blight and Bacterial wilt when managing tomato diseases.  Southern Blight will have a white fungal mat with small “BBs” on the stem. Photo from Zack Snipes.

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Bacterial wilt shows up in the same fields year after year. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Rob Last reports, “In our area, we are seeing some good quality watermelons and cantaloupes coming to harvest.  We are seeing some manganese toxicity related to low pH in both crops.  Also given the sporadic storms we have seen leaf potassium levels have been lower than ideal.  It would be recommended to monitor tissue nutrient levels and adjust fertilizer applications accordingly.”

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Manganese toxicity on cantaloupe leaves appears as round, tiny, tan spots, sometimes with a yellow halo.  This symptom can be misdiagnosed as early downy mildew. Foliar analysis can be used to diagnose Mn toxicity. Photo from Dr. Tony Keinath.

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 On the leaf underside, the halo appears water-soaked (“greasy”). This symptom can be misdiagnosed as early downy mildew. Foliar analysis can be used to diagnose Mn toxicity. Photo from Dr. Tony Keinath.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We got a little much-needed rain last week. Crops are developing quickly and growers have started harvesting the oldest planted sweet corn as well as squash, zucchini, cucumbers, beans, and what’s left of spring brassicas. Cucurbit downy mildew has not yet been found in the midlands, but it probably won’t be long. Keep applying preventative fungicides.”

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Zucchini almost ready to be picked. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Peach season is in full swing. Bacteriosis and brown rot continue to show up in many fields. Warm temperatures during an extended bloom period as well as rain and cold at critical times in the early season are likely the culprits for these issues.”

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Bacteriosis on ripening peach. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Cucumbers are being harvested in good numbers. Squash and zucchini yields are increasing. Sweet corn will be ready to begin harvest in a few days. Disease pressure is increasing in cucumbers, primarily Cucurbit Downy Mildew (CDM). CDM has caused significant damage and severely reduced the crop in two locations. Forecasted rains for the next 7-10 days will make it extremely difficult to spray fungicides (as well as applying insecticides, herbicides, and fertilizer). Fruit crops are being negatively impacted by the weather, as well. Reduced fruit quality is caused by increased disease pressure and wet field conditions. And, the forecast over the next 7-10 days is for more rain.”

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Checkerboard pattern indicative of Cucurbit Downy Mildew on cucumbers. Photo from Bruce McLean.

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Purplish-brown sporulation on the underside of cucumber leaves confirms that it is Cucurbit Downy Mildew. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “Cucurbit downy mildew is increasing rapidly with the rain, glad we started spraying Ranman or Orondis 2 weeks ago. With the rain, ponds have returned to our fields. As one of my vegetable farmers said “Not a good year to be in the Pee Dee vegetable business.” Hundreds of acres of beans, squash, cucurbits, and peas have drowned. Farmers are probably tired of me saying “Potassium Phosphide will help.” Regretfully, on brassicas, the yellowed margined beetle has become established in the Pee Dee, and downy mildew is awful. However, sweet potatoes are growing like a weed (its close kin morning glories).”