Weekly Field Update – 11/2/20

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “Strawberry planting is mostly complete in the area.  Plants received from nurseries have been very good this year and establishment is progressing well.  In fall vegetable crops Southern army worms continue to be present and numerous.  Whiteflies in fall vegetables are beginning to reduce.  Disease pressure remains relatively low.”

Zack Snipes reports, “Strawberry planting continued last week.  Bare root plants look good going into the ground.  Stay on top of workers to plant them correctly.  I saw some patches with “J” roots or long roots that went to the bottom of the hole and back out.  Those plants will die or produce considerably less yield than properly planted plants. Also, I have seen and heard reports of spider mites on plug transplants.  Check your fields and get out miticide this week if you need it.  Fall growth is very important as well as knocking out the existing spider mite populations.  Remember that the threshold for spider mites is 4-5% of the leaves with a population.  And lastly, I have seen AWFUL disease on purchased transplants.  If you purchase transplants and they have disease on them, DO NOT plant them. The plants will never produce like they should and you are inoculating the rest of your crops and land with that disease.

Clean bareroot cutoff plants.  Notice how white or cream colored the crown is and how clean the roots are. Photo from Zack Snipes.
A freshly purchased and planted collard transplant with black rot.  This plant will never grow out of this, it will reduce yield, and increase inoculum in the soil for the next brassica crop.  Send these plants back and find a new transplant provider. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Young strawberries are growing well so far in the midlands. We’ve had good weather for getting the plants established. We are starting to see some spider mites already, so don’t forget that we need to be scouting regularly as soon as the plants are in the ground. If you plan to cover your strawberries for a couple weeks in the fall, getting rid of mites should be priority #1. Other crops are doing well also, though we are seeing high numbers of caterpillars and diseases like black rot and Alternaria on brassicas have really been ramping up.”

Discoloration on young plants from spider mite feeding damage. Once populations reach the threshold of 4% infestation, treatments need to be made in a timely manner to keep spider mites from hanging around throughout the winter and into the spring. Photo from Justin Ballew.
Alternaria leaf spots on a collard leaf. Be sure to rotate fungicide MOAs when treating. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “First time I have seen large numbers of yellow-margined beetle in Orangeburg County – we had to treat 1 out of 10 fields for them.  If possible do not use a pyrethroid on young greens it will encourage worm and aphid problems.  Still seeing a lot of boron and Magnesium deficiency in greens, mostly because farmers are not liming properly, using sul-pho-mag, or using premium fertilizers with minor elements.  Spray with boron and many applications of Epsom salts and the greens will eventually grow out of the problem.  Like always, swine cress and corn spurry are awful weeds in greens – to control I recommend using a stale-bed culture technique before planting.  We still have butterbeans, peas, and cucurbits in the ground – hope frost stays away until after Thanksgiving.

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “High winds, heavy rains and now cold over night temperatures have laid down a gauntlet for growers in the Upstate over the last week. Many growers in Oconee County lost power from the remnants of hurricane Zeta for anywhere from 1-4 days. Apples are just about finished with mainly Yates and Arkansas Blacks left to pick. Apple growers concerned with fungicide resistance should contact Kerrie to pull Bitter Rot samples now to be sent to the shared lab at NC State.”

Andy Rollins reports, “Finishing up strawberry planting in the upstate.  I’ve been inspecting farms and assisting some growers with planting different types of plants they weren’t used to planting.  Unlike the pictured transplants some are a little smaller than normal but appear to be healthy at this point.   Colder weather is a slight concern as we need decent growing conditions to get them rooted in well.  Some may need to use row covers to keep strawberry plants growing during the first 30 days in the ground if temperatures stay low. Peach growers are putting down fall herbicides still and some are preparing to do delay blooming.  This involves waiting till at least 50% of the leaves are off of the trees before applying a liquid form of ethylene.  Other stipulations are also important regarding temperatures after application. If it is your first time trying this, speak with your county agent to get the correct method.

Healthy strawberry plug ready to be planted. Photo from Andy Rollins.
Strawberry plastic ready to be planted in the upstate. Photo from Andy Rollins.

Weekly Field Update – 10/26/20

Statewide

Dr. Matt Cutulle reports, “A good stand of fall cover crops will typically suppress most weeds. However, you may want to pursue herbicide options for cleaning up the weeds that have pushed through the cover crop canopy. If these cover crops act as buffers in fall vegetable crops, one has to proceed with caution regarding herbicide application. The best selective herbicide option for controlling broadleaf weeds in cereal rye would be a low volatility 2,4D or dicamba product ( the low volatility dicamba products may not be available right now).  Enlist One is a 2,4D choline formulation. Apply the herbicide with a hooded sprayer using nozzles that produce coarse droplets. We are approaching cooler temperatures so the conditions do not favor volatility as much as they did in late spring/summer. If you have a clover cover crop and do not want to kill it, do not spray 2,4D. Using a labeled graminicide (clethodim or sethoxydim products) in clover will provide control of grass weeds that have escaped the clover cover. Remember to read the label and use appropriate surfactants with the graminicides for maximizing activity”

A good fall cover crop can suppress late summer weeds and early winter weeds.

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “Strawberry plants and cut offs are going into the ground in the area.  Remember to check roots and crowns before planting and also supervise planting crews to ensure correct depth of planting is achieved. Caterpillar and whitefly on a range of fall crops, pressure remains high in the area so vigilance and regular scouting will be required to spot potential problems.”

Zack Snipes reports, “This past week was all about strawberries.  I visited many farms and saw lots of plastic being laid.  I checked many strawberry plants from a multitude of nurseries.  Overall the plants look ok this year. I haven’t found any glaringly obvious root or crown rots and very little foliar issues in our plugs and cutoffs.  Overall the plants are on the smaller side and I hope for a good fall growing season so they can size up a bit before going into the winter.  I saw, on a few farms, issues with calibration and equipment for fertilizer distribution.  If you need help calibrating or calculating fertilizer rates, please give me a call. I would be more than happy to come give you a hand.  I hate to even mention it but I am already seeing deer tracks in strawberry fields…if you need it…”

Imagine that…deer tracks in a strawberry field…Get up your fences! Photo from Zack Snipes.
Strawberry plugs about to go in a field.  Can you pick out the smaller, weaker trays of plants?.  I would plant these trays last. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Strawberry planting has wrapped up in the midlands and the earliest transplanted fields are already pushing out new leaves. This cooler, damp weather is much better for getting strawberries established than the dry, 95 degree days we saw this time last year. Be sure to go back through the fields shortly after planting to ensure the plants are set at the proper depth. If any were planted too deep or settled too much after the first overheard watering, gently pull them up to the proper depth and refirm the soil around them. This should be done before new roots start to form. Also, get ready for deer! it doesn’t take them long to find newly planted strawberries.”

Cutoff transplants pushing out new leaves less than a week after planting. Photo from Justin Ballew.
This transplant was either set too deep or it settled too much during the first overhead watering. If any plants are too deep, gently pull them up to the proper depth and repack the soil around them. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Strawberry planting is going full pace. Much of the acreage was planted in the last half of last week. The remainder will be planted this week. So far, the transplants look very good. Acreage is up compared to last year. Brassicas are (for the most part) looking good. Insects have not been much of an issue – minimal caterpillar occurrences, occasional aphids, and some grasshopper damage. Some fields have experienced some plant stunting and plant losses due to persistent wet soil conditions (root rot). Die-off really started to show on affected plants with last week’s heat. Some growers will begin harvest next week.”

Strawberry field immediately after planting. Getting ready to turn on the overhead irrigation. Photo from Bruce McLean.
Aphids on turnip leaves. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “Very little insect and disease problems on greens.  However seen a lot of B and Mg deficiencies.  Continues to harvest sweet potatoes yield is very good.  Some late Butterbeans and peas are planted.  Most strawberries are planted already some deer damage.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Late season rot issues have sent some apple growers looking for more answers with fungicide resistance testing. Apple pathologist Sara Villani’s lab at the MHCREC in Mills River, NC is conducting tests to look at resistance to specific modes of action(MOA) and fungicides in Apple production. Harvest in apples is about 80% complete with only a few varieties left to pick.”

Weekly Field Update – 10/19/20

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “As we approach the time where strawberry plants will be delivered I would urge all growers to inspect plants before planting.  Whiteflies continue to be numerous along with caterpillars in fall brassica crops.  Scouting as always will remain very important.”

Zack Snipes reports, “Hide ya collards, hide ya tomatoes, they eatin’ everything! The Southern Armyworm is wreaking havoc on crops in the Lowcountry.  The Southern Armyworm is a heavy feeder on a wide range of crops.  They are dark in color, with yellow to cream colored horizontal lines and a reddish/orange head.  If inspected closely, one will find a yellow “Y” shape on their head.  I see this pest in fields with a variety of crops as well as weedy field borders.  We have a full offering of insecticides to battle this pest but remember to rotate insecticides each time you spray.  We are also finding some Tomato Yellow Leaf Curl Virus (TYLC) in tomato.  This virus is transmitted via the whitefly.  Strawberry cut-offs and plugs are going in.  Be sure to inspect roots and crown before planting.  Give me a shout if you need an extra pair of eyes to check them out.”

Two Southern Armyworm larvae that are just about large enough to pupate. Photo from Zack Snipes.
Tomato Yellow Leaf Curl Virus is showing up in Lowcountry tomatoes. This virus is vectored by the whitefly with the transmission happening a few weeks ago. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We had a welcome light rain towards the end of last week and the temperatures cooled off nicely. Strawberry planting has begun and is progressing well. Remember to supervise planting crews closely to make sure plants are being set at the proper depth. Now is also the time to get deer fences up. Once the plants develop new leaves, it won’t take the deer long to find them. We’re still seeing a fair amount of powdery mildew and downy mildew in cucurbits and anthracnose in pepper. Caterpillar populations remain high in brassicas as well.

Strawberry cutoffs are being watered in after being transplanted. Following transplanting, cutoffs need to be overhead watered for at least a week to keep the plants from drying out while new roots get established. Photo from Justin Ballew
We’re seeing a fair amount of anthracnose fruit rot on pepper in the midlands. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Greens are loving cool weather and growing well.  Very little disease or insect problems.  Large numbers of armyworm moths in some green fields but they are not feeding on greens but on the purslane, pigweed, and other weeds – control the weeds.  Sweet potatoes are being harvested as quickly as possible.  Many strawberries are planted – already seen some deer damage.  I have seen large fields of peas without a pea left on top of the plants – from deer damage.  Pickle harvest is finished for the year.  Cool weather is slowing bean and pea growth and production.  Agri-tourism is flourishing because people want to get out of the house.”

Weekly Field Update – 10/12/20

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “Crops are generally looking very well to press with some welcome rain benefiting fall crops.  Whitefly and caterpillar numbers are increasing.  With a few foggy mornings happening over the last week be on the look out for foliar disease pressure to increase given the increase in leaf “wetness”. Plastic and, where applicable, fumigants are applied, ready to begin strawberry planting.  Just a reminder to check plants carefully before planting for crown rots and early foliar pest and disease activity.”

Zack Snipes reports, “We had another wet week in the Lowcountry with 2.5 inches of rain collected at the Coastal Research Station in Charleston.  Things are looking great for strawberry planting in the next few weeks. Be sure to check your plants and roots before you plant them.  Many issues can be solved before plants go into the field. Fall brassicas, squash, lettuce mixes, and root crops are growing and looking great.  We still have whiteflies on many farms.  On most of these farms, spring fields were not terminated once the crop was done which could have led to the explosion of whiteflies we have been seeing this fall.”

Many strawberry growers are putting up fencing BEFORE they plant which drastically enhances the efficacy of the fencing. This fence is about to be baited with a metal tab and peanut butter. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Last week was warm and we saw a heavy dew most mornings. We also had some pretty decent rain come through over the weekend. This warm, moist weather has disease increasing fairly aggressively on some crops. Powdery mildew and downy mildew on cucurbits are pretty rough right now. Pecan shucks are opening and nuts are falling from the earlier varieties like Pawnee and Excel. Strawberry planting should begin this week.”

The shuck has opened on this Excel pecan . Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Still planting processing greens mostly kale and collards because they are a little more resistant to winter cold.  Greens are rapidly growing.  I have already seen some Reflex damage from carryover from last year.  Personally I think it affects roots and keeps them from taking up nutrients and the damage is very similar to magnesium and boron deficiency – so I always recommend applying Epsom salts and boron to combat the problem and it usually works.  Strawberries are going into the beds. Since many are using vapam or k-pam, make sure that enough time is allowed for the fumigate to escape before planting.  Many do not fumigate anymore so don’t forget velum, nimitiz, and majestine are available for nematode control.”

Upstate

Weekly Field Update – 9/28/20

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “Cooler temperatures have really helped out the direct seeded fall crops.  Carrots, beets, and arugula are looking great around the Lowcountry.  We had about 2 inches of rain so many fields are soggy.  I am still seeing high numbers of whiteflies on just about every crop.  Whitefly feeding will lower yields so make sure to scout the underside of leaves. I expect to see an increase of disease, particularly downy mildew on cucurbits and black rot on brassicas with the cooler temperatures and abundance of moisture.”

Arugula is looking great in this cooler weather. Photo from Zack Snipes.
Whitefiles on the underside of a cucumber leaf which will cause yield drags. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “It’s been cooler this week and we got a little rain from the remnants of Beta. Its been several days since we’ve seen the sun, also. Lots of brassicas are being harvested now and more are being planted. There is a little black rot out there and plenty of caterpillars still. Strawberry plastic has been laid in a number of places and planting is just right around the corner.”

Strawberry plastic being laid in the Midlands. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Too wet to plant greens or harvest sweet potatoes & peas.  Peas are falling down reducing yield due to the inability to combine harvest.  Sweet potatoes are beginning to rot due to the wet soils reducing yields and quality.  Farmers are having to mud through fields to harvest pickles.  Downy Mildew, Pythium leak, and belly rot are bad!”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “With the end of September, most all the local farmers markets are finishing up for the season. Online markets and specialty/holiday markets will continue, but many produce growers have finished production until spring. Apples are continuing to be about 2 weeks ahead of schedule with decent crops across the board. Some growers have experienced high rates of fungal pathogens just because of the high rain incidence.” 

‘Brooks Spot’ preliminarily identified on Granny Smith apples. Photo from Kerrie Roach.

Weekly Field Update – 9/8/20

Statewide

Dr. Matt Cutulle reports, “With all the rain we had in August the weed seed bank is starting to pop. Nutsedge pressure can be really tough in September.  For fall cole crop plantings, it is important to initiate the stale seed bed technique (allow weeds to come up and burn them down multiple times before planting). In some cole crops, such as broccoli, Dual Magnum may be used, which provides some pre-emergent suppression of yellow nutsedge (Max 60% probably). Following with an in-row cultivation several weeks after planting will strain the photosynthate reserves of nutsedge, which could be lethal to the nutsedge if we get a  cold snap in late October.”

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “I saw whiteflies everywhere last week.  I saw them on just about every crop in the field: squash, zucchini, tomato, peas, eggplant, okra.  We have very good options to manage whiteflies, so consult with your local agent or look up the specific products for the crop you are growing in the Southeast Crop Handbook. Be careful not to use pyrethroids for whiteflies as resistance will develop very quickly.  Longer lasting, more specific options are available that are better options.  I also saw a good many worms last week such as the melonworm in cucurbits and the beet armyworm in other crops.  If you have whiteflies and worms in a crop then the group 28 insecticides (Coragen, Verimark/Exirel, Harvanta) are excellent options to take care of both pests at the same time with good residual.”

Whitefly infestations are severe in some places on the Coast. Photo from Zack Snipes.
Whiteflies on tomato leaves. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Last week was extremely hot and dry, though we finally got some relief from the heat over the weekend. Crops are progressing well, though we are seeing caterpillar activity increase. We’re seeing diamondback moth and cabbage loopers in brassica crops and armyworms in tomatoes. Be sure to rotate insecticide MOA’s when treating for caterpillars. I’m also seeing a few whiteflies around, but nothing severe yet. Black rot is starting to show up on some brassicas. Strawberry growers are starting to apply their preplant fertilizers in preparation for shaping the beds.”

Black rot getting started on a young collard plant. Photo from Justin Ballew

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Muscadine harvest is starting to wind down. Harvest looked good and had very good yields. Brix averaged out at 13.5 to 14.5%, depending upon the cultivar and the vineyard. Now is a good time to evaluate successes and problems from this season and write them down while they’re fresh on your mind. Also, look at the overall amount of foliage on the vines. Is it too much? Not quite enough? Start planning how you need to adjust fertility for next year. A post-harvest potassium fertilizer application has proven to be beneficial to the crop (in on-farm settings), especially in wet years. Overall plant health, spring emergence and vigor, and next year’s yields should be well improved.”

A bin of Carlos muscadines ready to be loaded and delivered for processing. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “Getting dry and need some rain. Busy planting turnips, mustard, and collards. Harvesting processing sweet potatoes as quickly as they can process them (problems in the plant). Picking pickles and yielding much better with dryer conditions. Also, pickling plants having trouble with getting enough labor so very few peppers harvested. Still spraying processing peas for cowpea curculio. Watch out for southern stem blight it is still raging havoc.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “The last few peaches are making their way to stands and markets. Things are continuing to look good as the Apple crop progresses in the upstate. Growers to the north in Hendersonville, NC suffered multiple hail events causing a large amount of damage, but SC growers seem to have escaped the worst of it. Vegetable production has slowed significantly with many small growers finishing for the season over the next few weeks. Muscadines are coming into their prime, and look to be highly productive this year.”

Golden Delicious apples that still have a little ways to ripen for optimum sugar content, but work great for baking. Notice the green tint. As they continue to ripen, a yellow cast & even a blush may appear. Photo from Kerrie Roach.

Andy Rollins reports, “These plants were found positive for Phytopthora root rot last week in an early upstate strawberry planting.  Inspection of plants when they arrive can accurately diagnose this problem.  Brown to blackish colored roots are characteristic.  A small portion of this material is taken from 5-10 plants then placed into a pouch that accurately identifies the presence of Phytopthora within a few min.  As in picture, 1 line tells you the test worked properly 2 lines indicates presence of the fungus.  Early treatment with Ridomil and or any of the phosphite (Rampart/Prophyt) is very helpful but must begin quickly if plants are widely infected for the best results.”

Dark colored roots are a characteristic symptom of Phytophthora root rot. Photo from Any Rollins.
An immunostrip test can be used to diagnose phytophthora. Two horizontal red lines on the strip (right side of the bag) means the sample is positive for phytophthora. Photo from Andy Rollins.

Weekly Field Update – 8/17/20

Statewide

Dr. Tony Keinath with a word on crop rotation. “To keep the soil on your farm productive over the long term, do not replant the same vegetable, or a related crop, in the same field “too often.” How often is “too” often depends on the crop and the pathogens present in the soil. Almost always, “too often” is less than 12 months between disking the old crop and planting the new crop. A general rule of thumb is 24 months between related crops, and in some cases, 36 months (3 years) is needed.

The main risk in replanting “too often” is building up root pathogens that survive in soil for years. Even in the heat, diseased roots and stems take several months to decay enough so they are not a source of pathogens. Thicker tissue, like the crowns of cantaloupe, can take 2 years to decay.

Another risk is foliar diseases that start on volunteers from the previous crop. The pathogens may be in or on some of the seed that sprouts, for example black rot on leafy brassica greens or gummy stem blight on cantaloupe and watermelon. A small number of infected volunteers means the disease has a head start right at the beginning of the crop.

Controls for soilborne pathogens (fungi, water molds, and nematodes) are limited.

  • Many vegetable crops have no resistance to these pathogens.
  • Fungicides do not penetrate soil well, or they are quickly inactivated.
  • Fumigants have many restrictions that require time-consuming record keeping and air monitoring.

Root-knot nematodes are a special problem, because they form galls on many vegetables and some field crops (cotton, for example) grown in rotation with vegetables. Summer cover crops of sunn hemp can lower nematode numbers. See https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/in892 for a list of other warm season cover crops that help manage nematodes.

Without crop rotation, more fungicide sprays will be needed, which raises the risk of fungicide resistance. Fungicides and fumigants are not a substitute for good crop rotation.”

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Many areas got a little more rain last week and we had a break from the heat over the weekend. We have a lot of the fall crop planted now including squash, zucchini, tomatoes, and brassicas. So far everything is mostly growing well. We are seeing bacterial wilt develop in some of the fall-planted tomato fields. Bacterial wilt loves hot soil temperatures, which is typical this time of year. Be sure to follow a proper crop rotation plan (at least 3 years) to help manage bacterial wilt buildup in fields. Since the heavy rain we got a few weeks ago, we’ve also seen plenty of bacterial spot in what’s left of the spring tomatoes.”

To test for bacterial wilt in tomatoes, place the cut stem in a jar of clean water. If the plant is infected, within about 30 seconds you will see milky, white bacterial ooze begin to stream from the stem. Photo from Justin Ballew.
Bacterial wilt commonly causes discoloration of the tissue within the stem. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Most summer vegetable crops are starting to wind down. Peas, okra, watermelon, cantaloupe still harvesting at some volume. Late summer/fall squash, cucumbers and tomato harvest are a couple weeks away. Fresh market muscadines are being harvested now. Juice and wine muscadines are getting close – maybe 7-14 days away, depending upon location. In most juice and wine muscadine vineyards, Carlos is around 40% colored (ripe), Noble is around 60%, and Doreen is around 25%. Grape root borer (GRB) flight is still occurring, with moderately high moth counts in traps.”

Eumorpha pandorus, a.k.a Pandorus Sphinx Moth caterpillar, found in the muscadine vineyard at Pee Dee REC. Photo from Bruce McLean.
‘Noble’ muscadines getting close to harvest. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “‘Another Crop Bites the Dust’ from spreader/stickers. I have seen too many farmers sing this sad song. Be careful and know what you are doing when adding a sticker/spreader when spraying vegetables. Short season, tender vegetable crops will burn very easy in our heat and do not have time to come back like long season row-crops. Our state’s second major watermelon/cantaloupe season is in full season in Chesterfield County. Harvest is in full swing and will continue until frost. Curculio sprays are beginning to be applied to the fall pea crop. Looks like pickle harvest will continue until frost.”

Field Update – 8/10/20

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “Across the area fall plantings are growing on and developing well. Scouting for pests and diseases will remain critical to ensure timely applications are made where necessary. For those with out fall planted crops thoughts are turning to next year with soil sampling. One key thing to consider at this point in the year is the use of cover crops. Not only will cover crops help to prevent erosion or loss of soil they also capture nutrients. In addition as these crops are incorporated they act as a source of organic material to aid in nutrient cycling in the soil as well as moisture retention.”

Zack Snipes reports, “We were spared from the worst of Hurricane Isaias.  We clocked 21 MPH wind gusts and 1.66 inches of rain at the Coastal Research Station in Charleston.  Most growers are working their fields after the much needed rain and are laying plastic for the fall crops.  This is the time of year when insects, diseases, and weeds usually have parties in fields if they are left unattended.  Remember to clean fields, remove crop residue, turn under weeds, and if possible plant a cover crop.  I would recommend buckwheat, sorghum-sudan, or cowpeas this time of the year to build soil, suppress weeds, improve nutrient capacity, and increase beneficial insect habitat.”

Field

A healthy field of cowpeas that can fix (or produce) up to 100 pounds of nitrogen for your next crop in that field. Photo by Zack Snipes.

leaffooted bug on eggplant

Juvenile and adult leaffooted bugs having a party on unattended eggplant left in the field after the field finished picking. Photo by Zack Snipes.

Pee Dee

Tony Melton reports, “Some fresh market sweet potatoes ready to harvest. Still planting process peas. Pumpkins laying over starting to run. Planting some fresh market squash and snapbeans. Still planting and harvesting hundreds of acres of pickles. Still picking thousands of pounds of processing peppers.”

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Most areas received at least a little rain last week and we had a temporary break from the heat. The increased moisture in some areas has lead to an increase in powdery mildew and downy mildew in cucurbits. Folks are still busy preparing fields and planting fall cucurbits and brassicas. What’s been planted is growing well. Some of the earliest planted fall crop tomatoes are already being staked.”

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Some areas of the Midlands are getting rain. The moisture is allowing powdery mildew to increase. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Peach season is winding down along the Ridge. Late varieties like Big Red are being harvested and end of season tasks are starting like summer pruning. Usually this is done to open up tree centers and remove any damaged or dying wood. Cuts at this time should be made no larger than a quarter. Late season peppers, eggplant and squash are being planted. Greens like collards and kale are being seeded as well. Afternoon storms have provided some much needed rain in some areas while others remain dry still.”

Peach Cut

Good pruning cut less than the diameter of a quarter. Photo by Sarah Scott.

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Things in the ‘Golden Corner’ are in full force when it comes to tree fruit. Peaches are still coming off and we about 60-70% of the way through the season. Asian pears and nectarines are coming off now, and apples are beginning to gain steam with early varieties starting to ripen. Late season rot issues are showing up in orchards where afternoon rains have prevented cover sprays. Merivon has been a consistent player for disease control, but a timely Pristine application has been shown to have much more efficacy on these late season rots.

Apple

Maturing golden delicious apple that still has a few more weeks until ripe. Photo by Kerrie Roach.

Weekly Field Update – 8/3/20

Statewide

Dr. Matt Cutulle reports, “Hurricanes or tropical storms can lead to increased seed dispersal from seeds that can be transported by wind and water. Two notorious weeds that come to mind when planning for hurricanes are Horseweed (Conyza canadenis), which due to lightweight seeds and plant architecture can be dispersed for miles during wind storms. A troublesome weed that can be dispersed through water (overflowing irrigation ditches, river surges etc.) is curly dock (Rumex crispus) due to the bladder-like structure of the seed. If you have access to a flame weeder or maybe Gramoxone it might be a good idea to get out to any fallow fields right now and start torching weeds with seed heads prior to this incoming storm to prevent unwanted widespread dispersal of weed seed.

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “We are anxiously awaiting to see what Hurricane Isaias will do today and tonight.  Hopefully, we will be spared of heavy rains and winds.  Some rain from the storm would not be a bad thing as many fields are dry.  I have been finding some leaf spots in rabbiteye blueberry, which is common for this time of year.  What is unique about the leaf spots is that they have caused the variety Tifblue to shed its leaves and then attempt to grow out more leaves.  The plant is weak and nutrient-starved so the new leaves are very small and red.  You will see red shoot flagging symptoms on Tifblue but no other varieties.  The other varieties will have the same leaf spot but they will still hold onto their leaves.  Increased fungicide applications between bloom and harvest should help with management of this disease and increase yields on Tifblue and other cultivars.”

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Fungal leaf disease on Powderblue that keeps its leaves despite having an infection. Photo from Zack Snipes.

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Small, red leaves on Tifblue that are a symptom of leaf shedding and regrowth as a result of a fungal leaf disease. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Some of the midlands got some heavy rain this past week, while others remain dry as a bone. Parts of Lexington had a strong storm come through Wednesday night that washed out areas in some fields and left ponds in others. We will have to replant some areas where fall crops had just been planted. The weather has cooled of slightly since. Aside from that, folks are still prepping fields and planting fall tomatoes, peppers, and brassicas. We’re still thinning pecans also. For anyone planting strawberries this fall, now is a good time to start taking soil samples.”

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This field in Lexington had some large areas washed out by the storm that came through Wednesday night. Fall brassicas had just been planted and some areas will have to be replanted. Photo from Justin Ballew.

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A pond that formed in a field in Lexington during the rain Wednesday night. The geese aren’t mad about it (upper right side of the pond). Photo from Justin Ballew

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Most vegetable and fruit crops look surprisingly good for the amount of heat we have had recently. Sweetpotatoes are growing very well. Peas, squash, zucchini, cantaloupe, watermelons, okra, and cucumbers are all looking good and harvesting good quantities. Downy mildew is still showing up on cucumbers, and powdery mildew on squash and zucchini. Sweet corn and butterbeans are wrapping up. The blueberry crop is finished. Muscadine grapes are looking very good. Wine/juice muscadines are just starting to color (maybe around 2-3%) and should be ready to begin harvest in about three weeks. Fresh market varieties should be just getting ready to harvest now on the earliest varieties. Grape root borer (GRB) activity was high this past week, with some traps capturing 50+ moths. Too late for any type of treatment For GRB. Just monitor and plan for control next year. Powdery mildew damage is starting to show up in the vineyard. No signs of fruit rot yet. Stink bug damage has been very light in vineyards with a strong spray program.”

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Damage from powdery mildew is starting to show up on muscadines. Photo from Bruce McLean.

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Mighty nice crop of ‘Carlos’ muscadines. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “All processing peas are harvested for the spring crop, but we have some cowpea curculio because of uneven crop due to excessive rain.  Fall cowpea crop is planted or is rapidly being planted.  If they found seed, farmers have already planted fall butterbean crop.  Getting ready to plant fall brassica crops.  Hopefully, all vegetable growers sprayed potassium phosphide on all vegetable crops before all the rain comes for root rot control.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Rain has still been spotty around the Upstate, so irrigation has been extremely important for vegetable production. Storm tracks are showing that the Isaias will bring some relief for the entire area. Early apple varieties are beginning to ripen, but sugar levels are still a little low. Blueberries are about finished for the season and peaches are hitting mid-stride. Cover sprays on tree fruits will be necessary as soon as the rain event passes. Insect pressure is increasing on vegetable crops as we move later into the season and into early parts of fall cropping, so scouting is extremely important.

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.