Weekly Field Update – 5/3/21

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “Botrytis (gray mold) is evident in places following rainfall. Sanitation and removal of the infected berries are critical to reducing inoculum loading. Fungicide applications will also be required to prevent spore germination and further spread of the disease. Where spider mite treatments have been applied, they have effectively reduced the populations but will still require scouting and monitoring.  Yields achieved are very good. Cucurbit crops continue to develop well with a low incidence of chill injury from the cooler temperatures observed on April 21/22. Crops are running well, with some flowering being observed. Cucumber beetles are being monitored, and a few aphids are present in places. Cucumber beetles observed are currently below the threshold of 5 beetles per plant. Squash bugs are also being found on some sites. Careful monitoring will be required because numbers can increase rapidly. Crops are free from disease; however, protectant fungicides are still a critical input. Blueberries are swelling well and beginning to blush.  Blackberries are flowering with excellent fruit set and bud formation. Spider mites have been evident in these crops too; however miticide applications are proving very effective.

Squash bugs are showing up in the coastal region. Photo from Rob Last.

Zack Snipes reports, “We had another nice week of weather in the Lowcountry. We are starting to dry out again so some rain would be nice. All of our crops look really great right now with no huge issues. The biggest issue I see right now is spider mites on all crops which makes sense with the warm dry weather. I’ve gotten a few calls about some strawberry plants putting out runners. We need to get in the fields and pinch those off while we are cleaning up dead berries, blossoms, and tissue. I have been in several vegetable fields lately and seen some inconsistencies in plant growth and vigor. Upon further inspection of some tomato and squash crops, I found galling on the roots which is an indicator of root-knot nematodes. If this is the case on your farm, pull up a few plants and look at the roots. We need to keep good notes on where these areas or fields are and practice good crop rotation for next season or use resistant cultivars. There are some cover crops that help with suppression as well. If you want to pull a soil sample to check for nematodes, give your local agent a call. We are doing a statewide survey looking for the guava root-knot nematode and can assist with sampling. In case you missed the “Update from the Tomato Fields” talk last Wednesday, here is the link.

Smaller squash plants in a large field made me question root-knot nematode damage.  Upon inspection of the roots, I found galling which is an indicator of nematode pressure. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “The weather last week was mild and it is very dry again. The inch of rain we got last weekend didn’t go very far. Strawberries are still yielding well, though in some fields, we’re starting to see berry size decrease, like we frequently see towards the end of picking. Folks had to remove water-damaged berries from their fields following the rain this past weekend. I guess the silver lining in this dry spell is we haven’t had many water-damaged berries yet this year. We’re still seeing some mites here and there, but disease pressure remains low. I found a berry last week with an anthracnose fruit rot lesion for the first time this season. So even though disease pressure is low, we still need to keep up with fungicide programs. There is some rain in the forecast for this week, so now would be a good time to throw in one of the site specific fungicides.”

Fungicides with the best efficacy on gray mold (left) and anthracnose (right) Photo from MyIPM app.
Cabbage with some cold damage from the cold a little over a week ago. Photo from Justin Ballew

Sarah Scott reports, “Along the Ridge, crews are still finishing up thinning in peach orchards to ensure good sizing on fruit. We are well into our summer cover spray programs for the season. During pit hardening it is critical to do preventative treatment for bacterial spot. Growers should be watching for plum circulio activity as well as scale crawlers in the next week as well. Sime powdery mildew has been found on foliage. Refer the the 2021 SE Peach, Nectarine, and Plum Management Guide for specific treatment recommendations. Strawberries are performing well. Some spider mite activity as well as some botrytis in the fields, which could worsen with several days of wet weather in the forecast. Transplanting of summer crops continues, including tomatoes and peppers. Curcurbits are becoming established and harvest will begin soon. 

Peach tree after thinning. Notice all of the green fruit on the ground surrounding it. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, and sweet potato slips are really growing since it has warmed up. Getting ready to sidedress and plow cucumbers. Fresh market cabbage will be ready to harvest soon. Processing collards are almost ready to harvest- some downy mildew has been seen. Asparagus suffered from excessive rains last year. Saw some sunscald and chemical burn on strawberries, so watch what products you are applying foliar, especially fertilizers. With the small amount of rain we had last week many acres of peas have been planted; however, it is awfully dry again.”

Weekly Field Update – 4/19/21

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “We had some nice weather last week. The tomato crop is looking great as are most of our cucurbits and greens. I am seeing increased caterpillar pressure across the area. We had several calls from across the state early last week about sunburned strawberries. We went and visited the farms and tried to rule out disease, frost damage, etc. The only thing we came up with is some sort of sunburn damage. This was most prevalent on the southern facing sides of beds where there was poor canopy coverage. I also saw damaged tissue on tender lettuce, in my citrus plots at the CREC, and on some new shoots of ornamentals at my house. I checked the solar radiation at the weather station at the CREC and the units (W/m2) were 300-500 units higher on Monday when compared to the prior 4 days. Perhaps we had intense UV levels and higher temperatures that led to this damage? Here is a really great article on the types of sunburn on plants and fruit.”

Discolored, damaged, and unmarketable strawberries. Photo from Zack Snipes.
The berries were clean on the inside and had no bad odors or flavor. Photo from Zack Snipes.
Solar radiation measurement from a weather station at Coastal REC in Charleston. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “The weather was a little cooler last week and we are really dry here in the midlands. I’ve had less than 4 tenths of an inch of rain so far in the month of April. This has been really helpful for disease management in strawberries. I’ve seen very little grey mold compared to years past. Spider mites are enjoying the dry weather, though. I’m starting to see populations really grow, so keep a close eye on that. Caterpillar populations appear to be building, though overall they are still low on spring planted brassicas. Tomatoes and cucurbits have been going in the ground and doing well so far. Sweet corn is growing well and it’s hard to even tell some of the leaves were burned by the cold a couple weeks ago.”

Two-spotted spider mites on the underside of a strawberry leaf. Photo from Justin Ballew.
If a treatment is needed for mites, use a dedicated miticide. Using broad spectrum insecticides kills beneficials, like this lacewing, which can lead to explosive mite population growth. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Peach producers are continuing thinning fruit since we feel that we have a good assessment of what was damaged by cold. Growers who have varieties with significant losses may want to take a look at a reduced spray schedule to ensure adequate disease and pesticide coverage for the season. It’s important to maintain orchards even if they are not going to produce a crop to maintain the health of the trees.”

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Cool night temperatures making strawberries, cabbage, collards, and greens happy. We are actually having a true spring this year. Labor is our #1 problem for small growers. Some crops have been destroyed by mistakenly applying the wrong chemicals, especially atrazine since corn is being planted now. Hundreds of acres of tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers are already planted and holding their own.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Peach and apple damage continues to be assessed. Weather forecasts in northern Oconee County for Tuesday night/Wednesday morning predict more cold weather, but growers are hoping for temperatures to stay above freezing as forecasted. Strawberries in the Upstate are starting to ripen. Last week most fields were being spot picked, but with warm sunny days many of the u-pick operations are beginning to open this week. The cold temperatures predicted Tuesday night/Wednesday morning could become an issue for berry growers depending on location, elevation, and air movement.”

Weekly Field Update – 4/12/21

Statewide

Dr. Matt Cutulle reports, “I am starting to see some goosegrass popping due to soil temperatures being 65 F. Goosegrass will typically be problematic in more compacted areas of the field. In most broadleaf crops a Select or Poast post-emergent application will control emerged goosegrass. PRE herbicide options include Curbit and Dual Magnum (If crop is labeled). In rice it is important to remember that Quinclorac products will kill crabgrass but not goosegrass. The best rice product that will control goosegrass effectively in SC is Clincher.”

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “Crops are generally doing well in the area, with strawberries coming off with good volumes. On the whole, row covers or icing protected 97% of the susceptible flowers leading to 1-2% losses of flowers. The damaged flowers can increase grey mold pressure in the crops so, maintaining both sanitation and fungicide applications to strawberries will be crucial. As berries ripen, sanitation also becomes essential for reducing pest pressure from sap beetles. In some crops, where row covers were utilized, we see spider mite populations increasing and a few active thrips feeding on both flowers and berries. Other fruit crops in the area, such as blackberries and blueberries, look very good with low levels of damage from the freeze event last weekend. Peaches in the area are being thinned, with scouting being maintained for scale and plum curculio. Early planted watermelons did suffer from the frost in places, leading to 10-15% plant loss and hence the need to replant in a few areas. Other crops are moving slowly away from the injuries. Luckily a lot of crops were not beginning to vine and survived the worst of the damage. These plants are stressed, so care will be needed with any applications as well as scouting for pest and disease issues. Conversely, Cantaloupes in the area were direct seeded and have survived unscathed.”

Zack Snipes reports, “I was out and about last week as things are moving rather quickly in the fields. Spider mites are alive and active in every strawberry patch that I was in last week. You will see the translucent mite with 2 distinct spots as well as a reddish colored mite. The reddish colored mite is actually a two-spotted spider mite. We see this red form early in the season. Get out and scout as the weather is perfect for them. I am also seeing strawberry plants wilting down and dying. If you cut the crown you will see a brown/red rot in the center of the crown. Send these plants off for diagnosis. Most of what I have seen has been Phytophthora. We lost some cucurbit crops to the frost last weekend but some areas had no damage at all or slight damage. For some positive news, we are cutting some beautiful broccoli right now.”

Lower lying areas of fields or areas where the drip tape was nicked is where I am seeing some root rot issues. Photo from Zack Snipes.
Cutting the crown of wilting strawberry plants can help detect the pathogen responsible.  Sending off to the lab is the only way to get a 100% diagnosis of the problem. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Strawberry picking started on a wider scale this past week. This conveniently coincided with spring break for a lot of the public schools in our area, so U-pick operations have been busy. The weather was very mild last week, so everything is looking great. Spider mite and grey mold activity seems to be very low. There are a few thrips in certain places, so that’s something we need to keep an eye on. Brassicas are growing well. Caterpillar populations are still pretty low in most spring planted crops. There was a little injury to sweet corn from the recent frosts, but we expect the plants to grow out of it. Sweet corn’s growing point is underground until the 6 leaf stage. Since pretty much all the sweet corn was at the 3 leaf stage or younger, the growing points were protected and the damage is just superficial.”

Strawberry season has finally arrived in the Midlands. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “We are still assessing peach crop damage from freeze events happening between 4/1 and 4/3. It looks like anywhere from 1/4 to 1/3 of fruitlets were damaged by the cold event but with no additional damage we should still be on track for a good crop this year.  Strawberries were delayed a bit from the cold but are recovering nicely. Planting continues for crops like kale and other spring greens.”

Peach fruitlets at shuck off. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Strawberries are really starting to come off. The quality is very good, and the plants are in good health. Disease is relatively low and spider mite activity is moderate. Damage was minimal from the freeze before Easter. We did see some damage on blueberries, though. Blueberries without frost protection (in especially cold locations) did see some significant injury to both early southern highbush and early rabbiteye cultivars. Injury of 80% was observed in Star and O’Neal (southern highbush) and Premier (rabbiteye). Blueberries with frost protection fared much better. This shows the importance of having well-designed frost protection if you are going to grow early-blooming cultivars. Muscadines, being at budbreak, did not show any significant injury. Farmers are taking advantage of this absolutely beautiful weather to plant vegetables. Sweet corn, peas, butterbeans, cucumbers, squash, melons, tomatoes, etc. are going in the ground as fast as they can. Blueberries are being planted now too.

Black and brown seed and tissue within the berry shows that the fruit was injured from the freeze and will not develop. Photo from Bruce McLean.
Damage to early fruitlets on rabbiteye blueberry. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “Most strawberries are doing well and really starting to produce a lot of fruit. Cabbage is starting to head and is growing well. Brassica growers are applying products for diamondback moth and Sclerotinia. Some pickles are emerging and many acres will be planted this week. Some butterbeans are up and more are being planted. We will start to planting peas this week. Cool temperatures slowed sweetpotato slip growth a little, but most beds are covered with slips. Collards, turnips, and kale are growing fast. Hundreds of acres of tomatoes and peppers are already planted. A few acres of watermelons and cantaloupes are planted, but our main market is after the 4th of July.”

Weekly Field Update – 4/5/21

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “Temperatures checked in at 28 F at the northern end of Charleston County one night this past week. Strawberries were covered but some blossoms are showing damage. The weather this week should really push berries and give us our first big flush of the season. Lots of acres of tomatoes are planted and before the cold were looking pretty good.  Time will tell how much the cold will slow them down. It has been very windy in the Lowcountry as well which I think has slowed down development on some crops. Spring brassicas are looking great with very low worm pressure right now. That does not mean we should stop scouting. Populations can jump very quickly.”

Tomatoes were looking ok before the cold nights. Photo from Zack Snipes.
A fall seeded brassica crop beside strawberries is blooming. The thought behind this cover crop is the early blooms will encourage beneficial insects that will prey on the early season thrips which have been causing lots of cosmetic damage on strawberries the past few years. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We had a couple frosts late last week and the temperature got down to 30 degrees at my house. Growers covered their strawberry fields, so we don’t expect to see any damage there. We’re getting very close to picking on a larger scale. I’ve seen some nutrient deficiencies in a few strawberry fields, so be sure to tissue sample periodically and adjust fertigation accordingly. Now that we’re into April and the forecast looks warm, many growers will begin planting cucurbit crops this week. A few already had seed in the ground before the frost. The first plantings of sweet corn are up and growing well.”

One of the first plantings of sweet corn is up and looking good. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Still determining damage from frost. One grower had 40 A of butterbeans emerging – sprayed with a frost control product. Sweet potatoes slips are up, covered with plastic, and beds are covered with slips (about a month out from planting). Cabbage is beginning to cup, head, and touch in the rows. Asparagus was hurt by cold and most harvest is over. Starting to plant pickles, peppers, and tomatoes. Picked all ripe fruit and sprayed for disease before frost – this coming weekend will be a good harvest for most growers.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “With some very cold nights last week in the upstate, the apple and peach crops took a significant hit. With extreme differences in topography, each grower has different severities of loss, but the overall consensus is not great. It will be another week to tell for sure on the apples and a little over a week to tell on the peach crop with certainty. One orchard recorded a low of 25 degrees F on the first night and 26 the following night. Night one was actually less damaging because of a persistent wind, where night two was calm and allowed the cold air to settle in. As we assess damages in the orchards, here is a great explanation of how it is done: https://extension.psu.edu/orchard-frost-assessing-fruit-bud-survival

Weekly Field Update – 3/29/21

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “Strawberry crops continue to develop well with sustained flowering and fruit set. Early crops are ripening well with crops coming to market. Just a note of caution, the weather last week can be conducive to gray mold development, so fungicide programs are going to be key. Thrips are active in some crops too, so keep scouting. Melon transplants are going in the ground over the last week with development looking very promising. Peaches in the area are all but finished flowering with great fruit set. Finally, as we are looking at a cooler week for flowering fruit crops, keep an eye on the forecast temperatures to determine if protection is going to be required. Fruit and closed buds can tolerate cooler temperatures than flowers, but damaged flowers can increase gray mold development.”

Strawberries continue to develop well in the Coastal region. Photo from Rob Last.

Zack Snipes reports, “We have had pretty good weather as of late and it has really made things jump here.  Spring greens, onions, radishes, carrots, and strawberries are really pushing out hard.  I counted 57 green berries+flowers on one strawberry plant. If someone can beat that number, I will give you a Free Crop Handbook. The blueberry crop is looking great with a good fruit set on highbush varieties and tons of flowers right now on the rabbiteye types.  We planted around 30 citrus trees on Friday as part of a Specialty Crop Block Grant.  We have around 75 more to plant next year.  All in all we will plant somewhere around 40 varieties with varying scion and rootstock combinations.  We are looking at cold tolerance in both the lab and a field setting and monitoring for citrus greening.  We will plant everything from kumquat to grapefruit to finger limes.

Newly planted citrus trees at the Coastal REC this past week. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Last week was pretty cloudy, but we had a couple beautiful days that reached the 80s. Though we’ve had a little bit of rain, the air has been thick with pine pollen. We’re seeing a few strawberries ripen but we’re still not at the point where we can open the U-Picks. We’re running a little behind where we’ve been in the past few years and I suspect all the cloudy weather we’ve had over the last month is partially to blame. I’m seeing a good bit of misshapen fruit, which is normal for the very first fruit that develop. This is usually related to pollination, but make sure you tissue sample to make sure boron levels are where they need to be. Watch out for the cool nights in the forecast later this week. We may need to cover. Spring planted brassica crops are looking good. Diamondback moths are showing up in places, especially near fields where a fall crop was grown through the winter, so be sure to destroy those fields once harvest is finished.”

Misshapen fruit are pretty common early in the season. Its usually related to pollination, but can be a sign of low boron. Tissue sample to make sure boron levels are adequate. Photo from Justin Ballew.
Spring planted brassicas are growing well and looking good. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Peaches are progressing quickly with small fruit forming on early varieties. Georgia has reported plum curculio activity in the middle part of the state so orchards in the Ridge of SC can expect to see activity in about 2 weeks. Check the 2021 management guide for control options which include Imidan, Actara, Belay, and Avaunt. Strawberries farms are on track to begin picking regularly April 1. Spring greens are being transplanted as well.”

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Strawberries are ready to burst forth and there are already some fruit on Ruby June. Working to protect strawberries and peaches later on this week. A lot of summer crops will be going into the ground after Easter. Pickle growers are biting at the bit.  Most greens are just emerging. Cabbage is enjoying the weather and getting to what I call the whirl stage so hope we have no damaging winds to wring them off. Sweet potatoes slips are just emerging on the beds.”

Upstate

Weekly Field Update – 3/15/21

If you haven’t already filled out the Clemson Agribusiness Team’s COVID-19 Ag Impacts Survey, please take a minute to do so now. Click the graphic below or scan the QR code with your iPhone to access the survey. If you have any questions about the survey or the results, please reach out to Kevin Burkett, Kburke5@clemson.edu, 540-239-4602.

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “Strawberry crops in the area are developing well with good fruit set. I am seeing a little gray mold around, so sanitation is going to be key as well as fungicide applications. There are also a few thrips in some crops, so scouting for these pests will be very important. Peaches and blueberries are blooming with little evidence of any chill injury from last weeks overnight lows in the upper 20’s. Asparagus crops are beginning to come to market with some chill affected spears early last week. With the dry weather conditions, field work and land prep is going well with plastic being laid for melon crops.”

Zack Snipes reports, “Great week of weather in the Lowcountry which has really improved the way things are looking. Greens, lettuces, root crops, and strawberries are looking good. The strawberries are absolutely loaded up with blossoms right now and are still putting on crowns. Fall planted cover crops are finishing up and being turned under. A bit of sad news this week as Author “Ikee” Freeman passed away. Ikee was a huge supporter of Clemson Extension and the farming traditions in the Lowcountry of South Carolina. His friendship, mentorship, leadership, and sense of humor will be missed by many.”

A fall planted daikon radish cover crop is flowering which provides early season nectar, pollen, and habitat for beneficial insects and bees. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We had another beautiful week of weather last week that really pushed plants along. Strawberries have a ton of blooms on them now. The weather has been pretty dry the last two weeks, but with a few days of rain in the forecast for this week, now would be a good time to throw one of the site specific fungicides into your fungicide rotation. Temperatures are still in the perfect range for Botrytis spore development (60-70 degrees F) and with moisture returning, we could see a lot of Botrytis in the next week or two.

Lots of blooms present now that we need to protect from Botrytis. Photo from Justin Ballew.
These are the site specific fungicides listed on the MyIPM app with the best efficacy for Botrytis control on strawberries. It would be a good idea to apply one of these ahead of the rain this week.

Sarah Scott reports, “Last week’s warm temperatures have pushed peaches into bloom. There was a significant increase in open buds from the beginning to end of the week. Early varieties are near 90% bloom. Temperatures look like they will level out in the next 7 days which is good as temperatures that are way above normal can lead to developmental damage for fruit set. Some pruning is still underway, as well as bloom sprays for blossom blight using products like Captan or chlorothalonil.”

Upstate

Andy Rollins reports, “So far peach season is off to great start. We got all of our chill hours in and are between pink and 5% blooms on all large scale varieties, with a few oddballs further along. Plum growers are even further along and many are preparing for bloom fungicide applications with primarily Bravo (Chlorothalonil). I will be repeating last years testing of new biological, Ecoswing, in bloom this week compared with Bravo. Strawberry production is progressing nicely. This week looks good as far as frost but things change quickly, so all growers will be intimately aware of every weather change at this point. I was very happy to help with a new 10 acre pecan orchard planted last week. It encouraged me because several local growers, University of Georgia specialist, a retired NRCS conservationist, and myself all worked together to help a widow in need. Her planning and execution was impeccable and diligent.”

10 acres of new pecan trees planted last week. Photo from Andy Rollins.

Captan Could Be Scarce in 2021

From Clemson Fruit Pathologist Dr. Guido Schnabel and UGA Fruit Pathologist Dr. Phil Brannen.

Unfortunately, there appears to be a shortage of Captan products this year. For our fruit crop producers this may result in a change of strategy if and when reserves run out. Strawberry growers fortunately have the option to use Thiram for basic gray mold and anthracnose control. The two products are basically equal in efficacy but thiram has a slight edge over captan for gray mold control, but it is a bit weaker against anthracnose.

Peach growers rely on captan for cover sprays. These early to mid-season applications manage green fruit rot and possibly anthracnose. Fortunately, during bloom and preharvest we use different chemistries at our disposal listed in the spray guide. As we mention often, we prefer to hold other chemical classes, those for which Monilinia fructicola (brown rot) is most likely to develop resistance, for use in the pre-harvest sprays. During captan shortage, we recommend application of two applications of a QoI/SDHI (FRAC 7+11) product, such as Luna Sensation, Merivon, Pristine or Quadris Top (FRAC 3+11), for cover sprays as needed this year. Along with any remaining captan products, we hope that this will help us to limp along till next year, while still providing excellent control of cover spray pathogens. Sulfur alone in cover sprays, though sufficient for scab control, is not efficacious for green fruit rot or other diseases; if using a QoI/SDHI (7+11) product, these will control scab as well as green fruit rot, so sulfur would not be necessary for these applications. As always, please contact your local extension agent should you have questions.

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.