Weekly Field Update – 1/18/22

We hope everyone had a great holiday season and that 2022 is off to a good start! Remember to keep an eye on the Upcoming Events tab over the next couple of months. We have lots of fruit and vegetable-related meetings coming up. This week we have a couple in-person meetings and a virtual tomato and pepper meeting.

Coastal Region

Rob Last reports, “In our area, crops are developing well with few pest or disease issues currently. Some brassicas are displaying a reddening to the older leaves associated with reduced phosphorous uptake. Phosphorous uptake can be reduced in cold temperatures and will recover when we see some warm temperatures. There is no response to an additional application. Where strawberries are flowering or have fruit, it is advisable to remove those to minimize sources of Botrytis gray mold for later in the year.”

Zack Snipes reports, “Strawberry questions have begun rolling this week with the threat of lower temperatures at the end of the week. For growers in the coastal plains, I would not cover my berries. Temperatures are predicted to get into the low to mid-20s. At the stage of development we are in right now, it would take lower temperatures and extended periods of time to do crown damage. Will you lose berries and blossoms? Yes, but right now we shouldn’t be trying to save those anyway. After the weather passes, make sure to clean/sanitize your fields. I am seeing a good bit of botrytis (gray mold) on early fruit. Some growers are trying to save fruit but we have to keep in mind that it is mid-January and the plants need to size up and experience a few cold events. We have a long season ahead of us.”

Gray mold on a previously frozen berry. This berry has thousands of spores that are looking to infect your blossoms Photo from Zack Snipes
2-3 crown stage where most of our plants are right now. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “The weather has been strange over the last couple of weeks. The week after Christmas was very warm and caused strawberries to push out a lot of blooms that were then killed by the cold. We have a ton of dead blooms and fruit on the plants right now. Eventually, these will need to be removed from the plants, as they will become a significant source of Botrytis inoculum if allowed to remain. I’ve had some questions about whether we should cover the plants to protect them from the cold we’ll be experiencing over the next week. This shouldn’t be necessary, as the plants are hardy to the mid-teens (F) in the crown development stage. Plants are still a little behind due to late planting.”

Strawberry plants are a little bit behind right now, but otherwise, look healthy. Photo from Justin Ballew.
Some of the fruit on the plants look ok, but cold damage can be seen easily when sliced open. These fruit will become a major source of Botrytis inoculum as temperatures warm up. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Phillip Carnley reports, “We are thankful to have some rain in Orangeburg and Calhoun counties. There has been little insect pressure on greens in my area, and the harvest was average. Now is the time to start pruning muscadine vines as well as managing soil fertility. Strawberries have started flowering earlier than expected due to the warmer weather we had in December with some light fruiting being seen as well. I recommend if you have the ability, remove any early blooms and fruit to promote crown and root development. In my areas with the cooler temps being called for this weekend strawberries should be fine without being covered.”

Sarah Scott reports, “We have had some chilly temperatures in our area over the last few days but luckily no ice to speak of. The cold weather is helping with the accrual of chilling hours that are needed for a good peach crop this year. Crews are getting busy in the peach orchards, pruning and putting out dormant oil applications.

A worker applying an oil spray to peach trees. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “A lot of strawberry growers are looking at a strawberry crop that is well behind where it should be. There are a number of reasons that can be pointed to, but really the main contributor is the cool spell that we had back in the fall, right after planting. Seems like the plants that were planted in the first week of October just look much better than the plants planted a little later – much better sizing, crown count, and vegetative development. Some other problems that have been seen include root rot, j-rooting, and just generally a few weak plants from the nursery. So far, spider mites have not been an issue. Many of the growers (with plants that are really behind) have asked how they can “make up ground” with the crop. Unfortunately, there is not a tremendous amount that can be done to “make up ground”. The plant has to have that period of fall growth to be able to set sufficient crown count and thereby make a crop come spring. Unfortunately, yield will be off. From here on out, manage the crop the best you can to maximize what harvest you will have coming in the spring.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Cold temperatures, ice, and snow have been the name of the game in the Upstate the last few days, and that same theme seems like it’s going to continue into this weekend. Growers with high tunnels and greenhouses should be removing the snow load to prevent collapse. Young fruit trees may need to be shaken to remove ice and snow loads to prevent breakage. Now is a great time to make sure all your equipment is ready and in great shape for the season; tune-up, sharpen blades, check fluid levels, etc.”

Won’t be playing basketball for a few days after 6 inches of snow fell in Oconee County over the weekend. Photo from Kerrie Roach.

Weekly Field Update – 11/29/21

We are currently evaluating the SC Grower site to determine any updates or upgrades that are necessary to better serve our viewers. To help with this, we would love to have your feedback. This quick survey should take about 5 minutes to complete and is completely anonymous. Please take a minute to share some of your likes, dislikes, or suggestions for the SC Grower.

Also, tomorrow (11/30), Bruce McLean will be giving a short, virtual presentation about the progress of the heat-tolerant butterbean breeding project going on at the Pee Dee REC. The presentation starts at 12:30. Click here to register.

Coastal Region

Rob Last reports, “In our area, pest and disease pressure have reduced in response to cooler dryer conditions. Keep an eye on soil moisture and continue to regularly scout crops.”

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We had a couple good freezes over the past week that took out the remaining fall cucurbits, tomatoes, and peppers. Strawberries are doing well considering we were late planting and we haven’t accumulated many growing degree days (GDD) over the last few weeks. I’m not seeing any spider mites yet and it has been quite dry, so I’m not seeing any disease either. For anyone using row covers right now, this week looks to be a little warmer, so it would be a good time to take the covers off and let the plants get more light. Research from NC State suggests we only want to keep row covers on for about two weeks in the fall.”

Strawberries are looking pretty good considering the cool weather and being planted a little late. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “We had some really cold temperatures last week and Tuesday night finally froze out any remaining warm-weather crops. Land has been fumigated and plowed for new peach crop plantings. Strawberries are coming along nicely.”

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Fall vegetable crops are continuing to look good with few problems. Stink bugs are still lingering around, and diamondback moths are just starting to become prevalent. Be sure to scout weekly and spray accordingly. Strawberries are a little behind where they should be. This is due to a somewhat late planting for much of the crop and the onset of somewhat cooler temperatures. Some growers are trying to push the strawberry crop by managing them with row covers. Other than that, the strawberry crop seems to be well established and starting to grow. Perennial fruit crops (blueberries, blackberries, muscadines, peaches, etc.) seem to be defoliating well and going into dormancy. Be sure not to begin winter pruning until the plants have reached full dormancy. Looking at the long-range weather forecast, sometime after the first of the year will likely be a good time to begin.”

Well maintained field of mixed brassicas. No herbicide applied… just cold steel (a sharp hoe and well-timed passes with the cultivator). Photo from Bruce McLean.
Butterbean planting at the Pee Dee Research and Education Center is loaded up with a crop and ready to defoliate. Harvest will begin in about a week to 10 days. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Weekly Field Update – 11/15/21

We are currently evaluating the SC Grower site to determine any updates or upgrades that are necessary to better serve our viewers. To help with this, we would love to have your feedback. This quick survey should take about 5 minutes to complete and is completely anonymous. Please take a minute to share some of your likes, dislikes, or suggestions for the SC Grower

Coastal Region

Rob Last reports, “Crops in the area are developing well, with few disease problems. In brassica crops, we are still seeing increased insect pressure from diamondback moths and whiteflies. Please remember to rotate insecticides with different modes of action. Following cooler weather, some brassicas are displaying some reddening to the leaves. This phenomenon often concerns the plant closing down phosphorous uptake. It is not necessarily indicative of a phosphorous deficiency in the soil. Generally speaking, the plants will ‘green up” as the temperatures increase.”

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “It was a little warmer last week, though we had some cool nights. We got a little rain (.3” at my house) and we could use more. Strawberries are continuing to get established and are looking decent so far. Some folks have opted to cover their plants for a couple weeks to accumulate more growing degree days. I’m glad to see that since we planted late and it’s been cool. I’ve already seen some deer feeding damage. It doesn’t take them long to find the plants once new leaves start growing. Get fencing in place before deer feeding begins. I don’t know of any repellants that work as well as a fence.”

This plant just barely had enough time to push out a couple new leaves before the deer found it. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “We’ve had some areas of patchy frost just as some of the crops like eggplant and bell peppers are starting to wind down. Broccoli harvest is wrapping up and this season turned out to be a good one. Fumigation has been done on fields where new peach trees will be planted and growers are plowing and preparing for planting. “

Broccoli that is ready for harvest. Photo from Sarah Scott.
Peach trees with fall color. Photo from Sarah Scott.
Cover crops in between rows to be hilled for new peach plantings. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “With the first real cold nights over the weekend, things have officially begun to crawl as far as production is concerned. However, soil sampling, land preparation, and winter chores have started off with a bang. This is a great time to get things going with soil sampling. Results are typically available within 2 weeks and adjustments can be started and made in time for planting. Check out the Clemson site for information, or contact your agent for help!”

Andy Rollins reports, “I am still in process of inspecting all upstate strawberry plantings for this new year of production. Plants should have leaves with three leaflets (like clover). Occasionally, you may find one plant here or there with four leaflets, this is within reason. You should not be finding nearly every plant with this abnormal growth. There can be several issues that can cause this. The use of runner stimulating hormones by plant producers and phytoplasmas (a type of bacteria) can also cause this effect. I have only found this problem on ‘Camino Real’ on one farm this year, but I am looking everywhere.  In a previous year when this was found, we later had deformed berries that looked more like a mangled up leaf than a strawberry. We have had some more root rot issues in fall crops and we are preparing new ground for peach plantings now.”

Strawberry leaves with 4 leaflets are ok if seen occasionally, but it is not normal to see this on every plant. Photo from Andy Rollins.

Weekly Field Update – 10/11/21

Statewide

There are some reports that anthracnose may be issue in strawberries this year. In addition, we are continuing to look out for the new disease, Neopestalotiopsis. Clemson Plant Pathologist Guido Schnabel has recommended applying Zivion S (natamycin) via preplant dip to help prevent these diseases. Dr. Schnabel provided the following instructions:

Mixing Instructions. Add Zivion S while stirring to the volume of water to be applied, or to a smaller volume that is then added to more water to make the expected final volume. Continuously stir the treatment solution unless it is to be applied immediately.
Application Time. Apply prior to plant as a preplant transplant root or whole plant dip treatment. Do not apply after or to harvestable commodities.
Application Rate. Root or whole plant dip: mix 6-12 fl. oz. (0.04 – 0.08 lbs a.i.) of Zivion S per 10 gallons of water. Dip plants for a minimum of 2 minutes, but no more than 5 minutes. Plant treated plants after dip application.

To find Zivion contact Nelson Jameson at 800-826-8302.

Coastal Region

Rob Last reports, “We are progressing well with preparations for strawberry planting. Some Plants are due to be delivered this week. Remember, if fumigants have been used, check to ensure the products have dissipated to prevent damage to the transplants. The same is true to make sure planting restrictions on any pre-emergence herbicides applications are observed. Always refer to the label. Finally, remember to check your plants carefully for pest and disease inoculum from the nursery. Planting any disease or pest-infected plants will lead to a more challenging. If you require any help, please reach to Extension Agents.”

Zack Snipes reports, “I thought I had moved to Seattle last week with all the rain and dreary weather. We have a good week of weather coming up and I expect that everyone will be busy in the fields transplanting greens, finishing laying plastic, and continuing the harvest of fall crops. Watermelons, squash, and winter squash are being harvested this week. Downy mildew is loving this weather and is on basil, squash, cucumbers, winter squash, and cantaloupe. I have seen many freshly transplanted fields with black rot in brassica. This disease shows up every time we plant brassica. It is essential to transplant quality transplants. If your transplant supplier is sending you diseased plants, then visit our Seed and Transplant Supplier list to find a new supplier. You might be surprised how big of a difference it makes. Carolina Farm Stewardship Association is having a webinar this week on Tuesday, October 12 at 12pm on Ginger and Tumeric production in a high tunnel. Please email zbsnipe@clemson.edu for link and passcode.

Black rot with its characteristic yellow “V” shaped lesion. Photo from Zack Snipes.
Transplants that are yellow and have black rot symptoms will not yield like healthy plants. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We finally saw some sunshine this past weekend after a pretty rainy week. Caterpillar pressure has been high and lots of treatments have been going out. I’ve been seeing a decent amount of pathogenic fungi developing on diamondback moth caterpillars due to the wet conditions creating the perfect conditions for development. We’ve had a couple acres of strawberries planted and ordinarily we would be planting full steam ahead now, but strawberry plants are late coming in this year. Lots of folks are being told it will be next week before their plants come in. I’m also hearing reports that anthracnose may be a problem from nurseries this year. As a result, we are strongly recommending a fungicide dip on transplants before planting to combat this and any potential infections from the new disease Neopestalotiopsis. See Dr. Schnabel’s comments about Zivion above.”

This diamondback moth caterpillar’s corpse is covered in white fungal growth. The recent wet conditions have provided the perfect environment for entomopathogenic fungi development. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Phillip Carnley reports, “Cucumbers are finished in Orangeburg and Calhoun counties. Fall greens are in full swing with some pressure from DBM with the occasional looper. Growers are bedding strawberry fields and applying their pre’s. We have seen heavy infestations of gummy stem blight in fall watermelons, as well as spider mite damage in blackberries.”

Gummy stem blight has been bad in watermelons this fall. Photo from Phillip Carnley.
Yellowing from spider mite feeding in blackberry. Photo from Phillip Carnley.

Sarah Scott reports, “Tree removal and field prep for new peach installations are happening around the ridge. Strawberry plants are being planted now and got a good watering in with last weeks rain. Fall vegetables are looking good, growers should keep up with scouting for disease issues in the field following the week of wet and humid weather.

Tree removal and preparations for new planting are going on now along the Ridge. Photo from Sarah Scott.
Fall tomatoes are looking great. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Upstate

Andy Rollins reports, “I am busy scouting new strawberry plantings this past week. Be on the look out for leaf diseases of plants but also check roots thoroughly for discoloration. When planting make sure crowns are still visible after planting. We are also preparing ground for new peach production going in. We are still picking a few muscadines, but that will be finishing pretty soon.”

Fungal infection on a newly planted strawberry leaf. All plantings need to be looked after carefully for the new disease Neopestalotiopsis. Photo from Andy Rollins.

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 – 6/21/21

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “Given the rainfall and humidity levels, we are seeing increases in foliar and fruit diseases on a range of crops. This includes cottony leak in cucumbers, anthracnose in pepper, tomatoes, and cucurbits. Also, please be aware cucurbit downy mildew is very active now. As a result, it is going to be really important to maintain fungicide programs in both a timely manner and to be robust. That being said, we have some great quality melons, both cantaloupe and watermelons, coming to harvest, as well as good volumes of quality peaches, blackberries, and a host of other vegetable crops.”

Zack Snipes reports, “We had some heavy downpours this past week which has beat some crops up. Hopefully everyone got their fungicides out ahead of the rain. The CREC hosted their annual Field Day last week. A special thanks to all that attended. I learned a good bit about herbicide carryover damage and direct herbicide damage from Dr. Matt Cutulle. I think the cool weather this spring made our plants and herbicides have some unusual reactions.”

Plant specimens showing herbicide carryover damage at the CREC Field Day. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “After a pretty dry week, Tropical Depression Claudette came through over the weekend and dropped a lot of rain (a little over 3 inches at my house). More rain is forecast for this week, so again, be sure to stay on top of fungicide sprays. This past week we started seeing bacterial spot on tomatoes, anthracnose fruit rot on peppers, and Southern blight remains active on several crops. We’re getting close to the end for the spring brassica crops. Tomatoes, squash, zucchini are being harvested and sweet corn will be coming soon.”

Anthracnose fruit rot on bell pepper. Photo from Justin Ballew

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Thank goodness the rain was not as heavy as predicted for the tropical storm. We are fighting belly rot and downy mildew on pickles with all the possible controls. Hard to get sweet potatoes laid-by and fertilized with the wet conditions. Snap beans are doing and yielding well but processors are having trouble keeping up because of labor problems. Bad thrips problems on peaches losing 1/3 of #1 yield.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Things are looking pretty good in the ‘golden corner’ area. Heavy rains over the weekend have caused some ponding and erosion, but nothing major. Disease pressure continues to be high with the perfect conditions (humid and warm), so growers should continue to practice preventative control methods. Insect pressure has still been considerably low for this time of year, but we’ve seen a subtle increase in populations in the last 2 weeks. Monitoring is extremely important for management strategies to be successful, in general nymphs or the juvenile form of most insects are much easier to manage than adults. Strawberries are just about done, with most growers doing some final pickings this week.”

Grapes are coming along nicely this season. Photo from Kerrie Roach.

Andy Rollins reports, “Phytophthora can be a devastating disease of Pepper. We have suffered extreme losses on one farm. The worst fields had been planted for 2nd year in pepper which is not recommended. Rotation is highly encouraged. Grower had treated with Ridomil twice and used phosphite repeatedly. It is believed there is resistance in this field to Ridomil, but testing hasn’t been completed yet. Dr. Tony Keinath has a complete description of this disease and control options in this article. We are mostly finished with strawberries at this point and preparing for next year. We are picking some peaches in the upstate although picking is very light do to extreme cold damage from April 3rd.  We are picking some tomatoes in high tunnels. Early blueberry crop was observed last week but picking is very light there also.”

Wilted pepper plants due to phytophthora. Photo from Andy Rollins.
Discolored vascular tissue in pepper stem from phytophthora. 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 – 6/7/21

The Coastal Research and Education Center Field Day is coming up on June 17 beginning at 8:30. You must register to attend this year. Registration may be found here.

Statewide

Dr. Matt Cutulle reports, “The coastal rain events of  the past week resulted in a lot of weeds popping up. For fields not planted yet this is a perfect opportunity to burn down  the flush of weeds to reduce the weed seed bank in the field.”

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “After some welcome rain in the area over the weekend, crops are looking good. However, given the humidity and rainfall, we are likely to find disease pressure increasing. Strawberries are all over. The wet humid conditions have spiked infections of botrytis and water soaked berries. Blueberries, blackberries and peaches are all coming to market with good quality and volumes with few insect or disease pressures being seen currently. Watermelons and cantaloupes are developing well with some early planted crops coming to harvest. In response to rainfall and increased humidity, keep an eye out for diseases such as bacterial spot in pepper and tomatoes. In addition, some cantaloupe crops are beginning to show Alternaria leaf spot. Make sure fungicide timings are good using a robust program.”

Zack Snipes reports, “We finally got a little bit of rain last week which knocked the dust down some. We could use more and hopefully we will get some this week. Incidence of Southern blight increased last week in tomato. Make note of these fields and avoid planting them in tomato, eggplant, pepper, squash, or melons next season. Overall, the crops look solid. We are in the thick of things when it comes to tomato harvest and rabbiteye blueberry harvest is starting this week as well. We have really humid and wet conditions coming this week so don’t forget to use protectant fungicides. I know everyone is busy, but during the busy season is when most of our insect and disease pressure spiral out of control.”

Classic signs of Southern Blight on tomato. Knowing the difference in Southern Blight and Bacterial Wilt is critical to management. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We finally got some significant rain in the midlands this past week. I’m up to 1.8 inches at my house and there is a good chance in the forecast for more. It has been warm, overcast, and very humid the last several days, which is the perfect recipe for disease development. Make sure you are using preventative fungicide where necessary. Insects seem to be picking up a bit as well. Caterpillars are going strong, we’re still seeing plenty of mites on various crops, and I’m getting reports of stink bugs here and there. We’re harvesting brassicas, squash, zucchini, cucumbers, and herbs.”

Tobacco hornworm egg on a tomato leaf. Hornworms start out small, but eat significant amounts of foliage as they grow. Photo from Justin Ballew.
Two adult diamondback moths making more diamondback moths. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Much needed rain has occurred throughout the area this week with more predicted. With rain may come an increase in disease cases, growers should be aware of brown rot as it has been seen in several orchards this week. Removing fruit mummies and diseased fruit if possible can remove some inoculum from the field and limit future spread. Bacterial spot still isn’t being seen on a widespread basis, but again, after the moisture moving in for the extended forecast, growers should keep an eye out. Strawberries are wrapping up with some harvest still happening. Peppers and eggplants are progressing nicely and will also benefit greatly from some rain.”

Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs can be a problem for peach growers as they are hard to treat especially for organic growers. Entomologist Dr. Brett Blauuw will discuss these pesky pests on an upcoming podcast episode. November2019Newsletter.pdf (uga.edu). Photo from Sarah Scott.
Brown Rot on peach. The diseased fruit, most likely infected during blossom, did not fully develop and size and is now an inoculum source for disease in the field. Samples of diseased fruit can be sent in for fungicide resistance profiling to help growers better manage for this disease in the future. Contact your extension agent for details. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “1 pickle worm was found in a local squash. Processing and fresh market peppers will be ready to harvest on the week of June 13. Early tomatoes are just beginning to ripen. The rains have been mostly very beneficial but some spots have had excessive. Mudding through to pick pickles in spots. Very difficult to apply timely application of chemicals and some have to be reapplied after rains.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach, “Things are looking good in the Upstate with warm season crops starting to come off. It’s still early for too many disease and insect issues, but high humidity and a couple days of spotty rain will most likely increase pressure significantly.”

Squash are beginning to set fruit in the Upstate. Photo from Kerrie Roach.

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.”