Weekly Field Update – 10/5/20

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “The cooler weather and lots of rain have brought out the diseases. I saw some watermelon diseases last week including gummy stem blight. We need to protect our foliage just a few more weeks to finish off those melons so keep at the spray programs if you can.  Whiteflies continue to hammer us in all crops this fall. Strawberry planting is just about upon us. Rains and wet ground have slowed some farms from laying plastic. Remember that preplant fertility and herbicides are critical to spring success. Spartan and Devrinol  are the only two preplant herbicide options this late in the season. Other products require a 30-day wait period. Let me know if you want me to come check your strawberry plugs before you plant them.”

Gummy stem blight on watermelon foliage. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Rob Last reports, “Fall crops are looking good in this area with good development in brassicas and beets.  Insect and disease activity remain moderate however with cooler weathers and rainfall scouting will be critical to success for these crops.  Adult moths are very active at present so be on the lookout for eggs and caterpillars. Plastic is down and awaiting strawberry planting in the next week.”

Growers are ready for strawberry planting. Photo from Rob Last.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “The weather has been pretty fall-like and enjoyable over the last week. The cooler temperatures and high amounts of recent moisture have diseases like powdery mildew, downy mildew, and anthracnose increasing. Caterpillar activity has increased in the last week as well. Be sure to rotate modes of action when spraying for caterpillars. Strawberry growers are ready to plant and will probably start within the next week.”

Powdery mildew has been picking up on fall cucurbit crops. Photo from Justin Ballew.
Adult diamondback moth that just finished pupating on a collard leaf. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Daytime temperatures have been mild with cooler night temps. Early last week areas saw anywhere from trace amounts to 2 inches of rain. Low spots in fields may remain wet and this could lead to potential problems.  Peppers are looking good as well as eggplant and late squash. Brassica crops are having some issues with aphids causing leaf curling.  Pecans are beginning to fall as well. Scab seems to be particularly bad this year,  most likely because of wet weather during critical spray times for fungal management in late June and July. 

Pecan scab has been rough this season. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Greens are growing fast with cool temperatures; however, beans, peas, pickles, and sweet potatoes have slowed down with these temperatures.  Most sweet potatoes need to find a home.  We are using a lot of potassium phosphide to keep down root rot especially on greens.  Most growers also use it as a dip for strawberries transplants or put through drip system as soon as they plant.  Getting ready to plant strawberries as soon as the transplants get here.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Clear skies since Tuesday with cool fall temperatures at night and warm days has consumers looking for all things fall. Growers with pumpkins, gourds, mums, corns stalks, and/or anything fall related have been busy keeping up with demand. Agritourism demand/opportunities has picked up significantly in the last few weeks. Apples are in peak season with Stayman being one of the current varieties available.”

Andy Rollins reports, “Upstate peaches are finished up for the year but muscadines are still being harvested although slowing some and strawberry planting is in full swing. I was called to examine poorly growing peach trees at an upstate farm. The majority of trees were dying from the most devastating disease of peach ‘Oak Root Rot.’  There was gumming at the base and I was fully expecting a greater peach tree borer problem but closer examination and cutting of the below ground bark revealed the Oak Root Rot fungus growing at the base of the trees.  When pushing your older peach trees up be sure to examine the main roots for the sign of this disease which is the white to yellowish fungal growth deep inside of the bark below the soil level.  There are a few other fungi that can have a similar symptom but they tend to grow just on dead tissue and don’t grow as deep into the wood of the tree.  There are some things you can do about it, but proper identification comes first.”

Gumming and yellowish white fungal growth at the base of a peach tree from oak root rot. Photo from Andy Rollins.
Poor tree growth as the result of oak root rot. Photo from Andy Rollins.

Field Update – 7/27/20

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “It has been a hot week in the Lowcountry. Most spring and summer crops have finished up. Ground is being prepared and planted for fall crops. I have received a few texts from growers that have yellow dots on their zucchini plants, which is downy mildew. Even in this heat downy can still be an issue. I have also had some reports of green-colored squash in fields which is an indication of a viral pathogen. The crop handbook has recommendations for cultivars that are resistant to these viruses that cause this discoloring. Fall is notoriously bad for cucurbit viruses so plan accordingly.  I have also seen some flea beetle damage on crops as of late.”

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Downy mildew looks a little different on zucchini and pumpkin than it does on cukes. Photo from Zack Snipes.

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Flea beetle feeding damage on blackberry foliage. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “It’s been hot in the midlands and we’ve gotten to the point where there isn’t much relief at night. We had some scattered rain throughout the week, but overall we’re still quite dry. Lots of land is still being prepped for fall crops. We’ve had some fall brassicas and cucurbits planted already and they’re looking good so far. Last week I got to watch a pecan grower in Lexington thin some pecan trees. Without thinning, he would have seen a massive yield this year, which would result in a significantly diminished yield next year. Pecan growers aim for nuts on just 70% of the terminal buds.”

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Fall squash seedlings just beginning to emerge. Photo from Justin Ballew

Thinning pecans with a mechanical shaker. You can see the nuts fall as the tree vibrates.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Pickles are still being harvested and planted. We still have hundreds of thousands of bushels in contract to be planted and harvested.  Peas for processing are being rapidly harvested and replanted, some seed is short.  Sweet potatoes are starting to swell and size.  Processing peppers are being harvested but we have a shortage of labor and multi-millions of lbs. left to harvest.  Processing tomatoes will be finished harvest this coming week.  Spring planted fresh market butterbeans and peas are mostly harvested but seed is short to plant the fall crop. Still have some flooded fields and drowned crop.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Spotty rain across the county again last week has led to continued issues for growers without irrigation. Fall planting for vegetables is in full force. Peaches are looking good, and apples are coming along. Most growers will be putting on a fungicide cover spray this week before significant rains are forecasted.”

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Reverted apple rootstock (believed to be M7) volunteer tree with aborted fruitlet. Photo from Kerrie Roach.

Andy Rollins reports, “Bacterial speck and bacterial spot of tomato are major problems in plum tomato varieties in the upstate right now.  They were not able to control this disease even with a vigorous spray program using mancozeb + copper on several farms.  In nearby plantings of large fruit varieties, the disease is present but not a problem.  Samples have been sent to researchers at Auburn University where the have confirmed the presence of copper resistant isolates from other farms.  Call on your extension agent for assistance with identifying and controlling this problem.”

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Bacterial speck on a tomato leaf from the upstate. Photo from Andy Rollins.

Field Update – 11/25/19

Coastal Region

Zack Snipes reports, “Things are looking good in the Lowcountry. We are harvesting lots of produce right now just in time for the holidays. I have seen some cold damage on some brassicas but other than that very few issues to report.”

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Freshly harvested tumeric. Photo from Zack Snipes

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Cold damage on brassica. Photo from Zack Snipes

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “The weather has been pretty mild over the last week and we have had some rains. We’re picking some really good looking collards and kale right now. Caterpillar populations remain low in most places, though there are some hot spots around. Lots of folks have been asking about necrotic lower leaves on brassicas that have appeared since the temperature dipped into the 20’s the week before last.  In most cases this is only cold damage.  We can see some secondary fungal development on the damaged tissue, but its not really concerning.  Just pick those leaves off, the new growth will be fine.

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Lower collard leaf damaged by the cold. New growth will be unaffected. Photo from Justin Ballew

Sarah Scott reports, “Peach fields are being prepped for new plantings.  A levee plow is used to create berms to plant the trees on top of.  Growers have adapted this technique to increase tree life due to soil borne disease issues.”

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Planting peach trees on a berm reduces the risk of soil borne diseases. Photo from Sarah Scott

Pee Dee Region

Tony Melton reports, “Still digging processing sweet potatoes even though tops are dead. A good portion of fresh market collards were sold over weekend. All processing turnips, mustard, and collards have been harvested at least once and some twice. For a summary of vegetable research conducted at the Pee Dee Rec in 2019, see this PDF: 2019 PDREC Farm Research19.”

Upstate

Mark Arena reports seeing some premature pecan germination. “We can see this when the trees do not receive enough water to complete shuck splitting and the nuts remain lodged in the husk for an extended period. Combine this with warm late season temperatures after nut ripening is complete and the addition of rainwater accumulating in the shuck, which provides ample moisture to innate rooting. Affected nuts are considered inedible. Proper irrigation and shaking the trees in the easiest remedy for this condition.”

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Premature pecan germination. Photo from Mark Arena