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.”

Field Update – 5/10/21

Statewide

Dr. Matt Cutulle reports, “I have received calls regarding injury from Curbit in direct seeded cucumbers this year. This can be partly attributed to the colder spring we had this year and potentially seeding to shallow. Seeds germinating in that herbicide layer will have increased stunting in colder soil temperatures.”

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “Following some hail events last week, we find some shredded leaves in cucurbits and some small fruit crops. Strawberries continue to develop well, with isolated incidences of gray mold being seen. Sanitation is one of the critical methods for managing gray mold along with fungicide applications. Thrips are also beginning to be observed. Blueberries in the area are being harvested with good quality fruit. Keep a close eye on scouting for insects. Spider mites are still active in many crops. Cucumber beetles continue to increase as they are migrating from overwintering sites. Many populations are at or very close to the threshold of five adult beetles per plant.”

Zack Snipes reports, “The word in the field right now is…boring. We have had mild temperatures and not much rain so there isn’t a whole lot of disease in the fields right now. I saw the first tomato plant casualties to Bacterial wilt earlier this week. There isn’t anything you can do if you see this disease at this point. Take notes on what varieties and where you see the wilting to help with the issue next year. We have a good fruit set on the tomato crop.  We are seeing heavy volumes of squash and zucchini being picked right now. Melons are blooming in some places and in more coastal areas are sizing up.”

Bacterial wilt causes sudden wilt of tomato plants. Typically it will get a few plants within the same row. Photo from Zack Snipes.
Highbush blueberry variety trial taste test. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Last week was a tough week for strawberries. We had a couple heavy rain events, one of which brought hail with it. Several crops suffered torn leaves from the hail including strawberries, brassicas, and cucurbits. We had a lot of water damaged berries which have kept growers busy sanitizing. We are seeing higher amounts of disease since the rain including botrytis and a little bit of anthracnose fruit rot. Cyclamen mites were found in strawberries this past week. Infested plants from nurseries are a major source for cyclamen mites. The symptoms are very similar to thrips damage, so if you’re seeing crinkled, dark-colored leaves or bronzing and cracking on the fruit, reach out to your local Extension agent for help distinguishing the cause before making treatments. Also, I’m not seeing a whole lot of blooms on the plants, so we may only have a couple weeks of picking left. Keep that in mind if planning miticide or insecticide applications and plan accordingly.”

Monday afternoon hail left holes and tattered leaves in several crops across a fairly wide swath in Lexington County. Photo from Justin Ballew
Crinkled, dark colored leaves from cyclamen mites. Thrips cause similar symptoms, so be sure to determine what caused the damage before treating. Photo from Justin Ballew
Cyclamen mites on a developing strawberry (45x magnification). The arrow on the right is pointing to a juvenile mite. The arrow on the left is pointing to an egg. Photo from Justin Ballew

Sarah Scott reports, “Peach harvest has slowly started with the earliest of varieties. With the drier weather we have not seen a lot of bacterial spot however we will be on the lookout in the coming days with the forecast showing some moisture coming our way. Cover sprays continue for later varieties and we expect active scale crawlers in the next week or so.”

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Much of the northern portion of the Pee Dee received beneficial rains over the last week or so, although it did come by the way of severe storms. Damage to fruit and vegetable crops was (for the most part) minimal, with more significant damage (damaged plastic, broken tomato plants, wind damaged leaves on cucumbers and squash) localized. Vegetable planting has resumed. Thrips activity has been seen on cucurbits and peas. Disease on strawberries (primarily botrytis) has been really heavy, since we have received recent rains. Growers need to step up on old, damaged and disease fruit removal and their fungicide sprays to try to get it back under control. Blueberries are coming along… slowly. First harvest looks to be a bit behind normal timing. Muscadines did take a bit of a hit during the Easter freeze. A lot of primary buds were damaged (on Carlos and Noble muscadines) and were replaced by secondary buds. How it will affect the harvest…we’ll see.”

Lost of primary buds during the Easter freeze event forced the secondary buds to break. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “Seeing 2,4-D damage on tomatoes including a high tunnel plants near harvest, a high tunnel with transplants, and a field with plants setting fruit. Also seeing Roundup damage in a field of tomatoes and a greenhouse with thousands of many types of transplants (sprayed under beds).  We’ve seen hail damage on a strawberry field, and plastic destroyed on a high tunnel. Curbit damage on 50 acres of pickles. Planting too shallow and too much irrigation. Starting to harvest fresh market cabbage and processing collards. Pickle plants starting to run, flower, and get sprayed for belly rot. Spraying peas, beans, and cucumbers for thrips.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Things are starting to pick up speed in the Upstate. With the potential of a late frost finally past, growers have been busy planting warm season vegetable crops in the ground. Strawberries are still doing well, with heavy rains interrupting harvest only a few times early last week. This week’s weather is projected to be unseasonably cool, but not cold with potential rain for a couple days. Insect issues should continue to stay low, but growers should be monitoring closely for disease under these conditions.”

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