Weekly Field Update – 11/29/21

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

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

Coastal Region

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

Midlands

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

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

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

Pee Dee

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

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

Weekly Field Update – 11/15/21

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

Coastal Region

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

Midlands

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

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

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

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

Upstate

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

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

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

Weekly Field Update – 11/8/21

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

Coastal Region

Zack Snipes reports, “It feels like winter showed up this past week with cold, windy, gloomy days. Most, if not all of our strawberries have been planted. With the cool weather showing up and our later planting dates this year, some growers are opting to use lightweight row covers to push their plants along a little bit. A few things to remember if you opt to do this: use lightweight row covers, make sure all disease and insect issues are taken care of before putting the row covers on, and only leave them on for a few weeks. We want to encourage some growth of our plants but we don’t want our plants getting too big and succulent going into the winter. I visited several farms this week with poor quality fruit trees. A common thread between these plantings is planting depth. In our sandy soils, plants will sink over time so as Phillip Carnley says, “plant them proud,” which means plant them higher than you think they should be planted. Over time, the plants will settle into the correct depth. Pecans, blueberries, and other crops will not grow roots from their trunks, so over time the plant will rot and pathogens will get into the plant when they are buried too deep.”

A pecan tree that was planted 8 inches too deep. Photo from Zack Snipes.
A blueberry plant that has sunk over the past few years. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “It got pretty chilly towards the end of last week and we saw a light frost in a number of places this morning (11/8). Brassica crops are looking great right now. Diamondback moths are still out there, but they seem to be manageable at the moment. There is a little black rot here and there, though we haven’t had enough rain for it to really be a serious problem. Strawberries are getting established. We didn’t accumulate many growing degree days (GDD) last week since it got so cool. Again, I would think about using row covers for a week or two this month to help accumulate GDDs. Here’s a good Strawberry Grower Checklist from the Small Fruit Consortium that has some great tips for the fall season.”

Collards are looking great in the midlands right now. Soon, we’ll be picking a lot for the Thanksgiving market. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Vegetable crops are looking good around the Pee Dee. Some of the aphid and spider mite pressure that was seen earlier last week has subsided a bit. But, be sure not to drop your guard. Their populations can easily bounce back in dry conditions. Stink bugs are still present in pretty high numbers. Stink bugs (in high enough numbers) can cause damage to brassicas. So, be sure to scout and treat, accordingly. Strawberries are looking good for the most part. Unfortunately, I have seen a good bit of j-rooting in bareroot strawberries. J-rooting is a condition where the roots of the bareroot plant are improperly planted. Instead of the roots of the plant being planted vertically in the soil (where the planting hole is dug to an adequate depth for the length of roots of the transplant), the roots are buried horizontally just below the surface of the soil, often with the root tips exposed. This will severely impact the yield of your plant and if done repeatedly across the field, the yield for the entire planting. And, yield is money. It’s a lot easier to take a few minutes prior to planting to show your workers the proper way to plant bareroot plants. Providing them with a (bareroot) planting bar/tool and showing them how to properly use it helps to eliminate these problems. Checking behind your workers is important to ensure that they are continuing those planting techniques. Coming back and trying to fix a problem (if it is severe) is not realistic and cost prohibitive, because it would mean that every plant might need to be inspected and possibly replanted. Research out of California has shown that j-rooting can reduce yields 18.5%. That’s a pretty big bite of the apple (… or in this case, the strawberry) that the grower can likely lose right off the top. I don’t know too many growers that can handle that much of a loss on such a high value crop.”

Severe j-rooting on bareroot strawberry plant. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Weekly Field Update – 11/1/21

For anyone looking to diversify their operation, check out this week’s virtual program on cut flower production. The program will be this Wednesday (11/3) from 12-1pm. Click here to register.

Coastal Region

Rob Last reports, “Following the welcome rainfall last week, crops are looking good. The precipitation will help establish strawberry plants in the area because a lot have only recently been transplanted. Fall brassica crops are developing well, with pressure from diamondback moths being moderate. There are also isolated incidences of whitefly in brassica plantings. The best policy is to scout thoroughly and regularly allow decisions on applications to be made quickly.”

Zack Snipes reports, “Cooler temperatures showed up this past week along with some rain. Everyone is busy planting strawberries. We are a few weeks behind this year but overall the plant quality looks good. Many growers dipped plants prior to planting to prevent crown rot pathogens. One common issue that I have seen this year, and every year, is planting crews planting plants too deep. Although it may not seem like a big deal, planting too deep will cause plants to be small and have reduced yields. You still have time to walk the fields and lift plants up a bit. Bananas and citrus are just about ready to pick in the Lowcountry.”

A Meyer Lemon just before harvest. Photo from Zack Snipes.
A nice cluster of SC bananas. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Temperatures were a little cooler last week and we got some much-needed rain. Strawberry planting has finished now and plants are starting to push out some new leaves. We have seen some plants that were planted a little deep and some that settled too much after transplanting, so be sure to go through the fields and gently pull these plants up to the correct height and reform the soil around them. The best time to do this is before the plants have produced tons of new roots. It’s going to be cooler this week and plants are already a little behind from being planted late. Therefore, growers may want to consider using row covers this month for 2-3 weeks to increase growing degree days and promote growth. There is a great article in the latest NC Strawberry Association Newsletter (pages 6-8) about using row covers in the fall.”

Strawberry plants are starting to push out new leaves. Photo from Justin Ballew
New roots seem to be developing pretty well so far. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Last week’s rain helped to moisten up the soil a bit, but we are still pretty dry across the Pee Dee. Fall vegetable crops are looking good for the most part. Spider mites, aphids, and stink bugs have been very active. Last week’s showers likely knocked back the aphid and spider mite population some, but they will come back. Be sure to actively scout for them. Strawberries are finishing up being planted, and are looking good. Much of the strawberry crop is a little late this year. Be sure to monitor soil moisture (…since it is rather dry), making sure it doesn’t get too dry underneath the plastic. Also since spider mite activity has been up, it would be a good idea to scout for spider mites on strawberries and treat accordingly if mite pressure becomes high enough.”

Weekly Field Update – 10/25/21

Join us this Thursday (10/28/21) at 12:30pm for the next installment of our CUltivating SC Growers Series. This month Zack Snipes will be discussing the ins and outs of cover cropping. To register, click here.

Coastal Region

Zack Snipes reports, “We had a nice week of weather last week and are getting some rain this morning (10/25). Strawberry plants are arriving and growers will be busy putting in plants this week. I’ve gotten several calls about doing plant dips to prevent disease for the upcoming season. Most growers are using Zivion but it has been somewhat hard to come by so others are using Switch. We are dipping plants so crown rot diseases don’t wipe out our crop. Speaking of wiping out our crop…DEER. Get your fences up now BEFORE you plant. We see black rot on brassicas every season but it seems particularly bad this season.  Cultural practices such as crop rotation, using clean seed and transplants, and spacing plants out can help with the disease. There are no products that will help with this disease.  We had a great fall watermelon crop that will be wrapping up here shortly.

A deer fence was installed for a high deer pressure brassica field.  This fence will provide an incredible return on investment. Photo from Zack Snipes.
A nice spread of cut flowers on Johns Island which reminds me that we have a cut flower production workshop next Wednesday, November 3rd. Register here. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We finally got our strawberry transplants in and most are now in the ground. We still have a few to finish up and we should be done this week. Even though it is cooling off this week, don’t forget to overhead water newly planted transplants for the first several days. Drip irrigation is often not enough in our sandy soil while the plants are trying to get established. Now is also a good time to go back through the field and check for plants that settled too much after transplanting. Gently pull them up to the correct depth and refirm the soil around them. If you are in an area with deer pressure, now is the time to put up deer fencing. Don’t wait until feeding has already begun or it will be even harder to keep the deer out of the field.”

We finally have strawberry plants in the ground in the midlands. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Upstate

Andy Rollins reports, “We are still in process of planting our 2022 strawberry crop. Growers are looking closely for root diseases of plants as well as leaf disease. Many are concerned about the new disease Neopestalotiopsis (see this article). Growers need to be careful with cutoffs and bare-root planting. J rooting is a common problem. The L-shaped planting tool should be used to hold tips of roots, push plants to the proper depth, hold the crown above ground with the other hand, and push down. This last step was commonly being neglected on several farms. Roots should be straightened or cut off in the last step. We had a case of herbicide damage on turnips. Sulfentrazone (Spartan) is believed to be the culprit. This product builds in the soil, especially when used multiple years in a row.  So, please be careful not to cause your own problem.”

This strawberry planting is looking good so far. Photo from Andy Rollins.
Sulfentrazone can build up in the soil over time and cause some plant damage. Be careful about using it in the same fields in successive seasons. Photo from Andy Rollins.

Weekly Update – 10/18/21

Coastal Region

Rob Last reports, “As we begin to see strawberry plants delivered into the area, don’t forget to examine the plants for pests and disease closely.  With regards to disease, check the leaves for foliar disease and the roots for discoloration.  A root dip fungicide application is very practical for managing crown rots.  Also, don’t forget your deer fences.”

Midlands

Sarah Scott reports, “Broccoli is starting to head and looking pretty good. Some growers have already received strawberry plants and have them in the ground while the rest are still awaiting plant arrival. Late summer/fall harvest of tomatoes, eggplant, and summer squash continues and peppers are still coming on. The peppers pictured have a large population of whiteflies and some aphids causing sooty mold. The new growth is slightly deformed due to heavy feeding. A foliar treatment with a product having low PHI may be necessary on these developing plants.  Refer to the vegetable crop handbook for treatment options.”

Justin Ballew reports, “We had beautiful sunny weather last week that really helped dry things out. Strawberry transplants are due in this week and growers will start getting them in the ground as soon as they can. We have heard some reports of anthracnose coming from nurseries, so be sure to closely examine your plants and do not plant any that look weak. Since we are planting a little late, proper planting is all the more important. Be sure crews are planting transplants at the proper depth. Supervise them closely. Using row covers to push growing degree days may also be helpful this fall since most folks are planting a week or more late. There is a good article in this month’s NC Strawberry Association newsletter (pages 6-8) about using row covers in the fall.”

Supervise planting crews carefully to make sure plants are going into the ground at the proper depth. The crown should be just above the soil line. The plant pictured here is planted too deep and the crown is not visible. As a result, this plant is always going to be behind. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Phillip Carnley reports, “Nothing much has changed in Orangeburg or Calhoun counties. Like most of the state, shipments of strawberry plugs and crowns have been delayed upon arrival; make sure to inspect plants with care to ensure that they are healthy. Brassica crops are loving the cooler night temperatures we’ve gotten recently, and I have noticed higher armyworm and looper pressure. With these caterpillar pests, make sure you have a targeted spray program and rotate MOA’s. Try to not use the same MOA within a 30-day time span.”

Imported cabbageworm. Photo from Phillip Carnley.
Armyworm. Photo from Phillip Carnley.

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “The temperatures have taken a significant turn with mornings in the 30s and 40s. Like many other areas, strawberry plugs seem to be running well behind schedule, which in our area has made for some tough decisions. Planting in the upstate (Oconee/Pickens/Anderson) should typically be done around the end of September give or take 1-2 weeks. With the cool weather that has quickly moved in and plugs still not here (many not expected until the end of Oct), some growers have decided against planting for the 2022 season.”

Weekly Field Update – 10/11/21

Statewide

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

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

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

Coastal Region

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

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

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

Midlands

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

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

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

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

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

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

Upstate

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

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

Weekly Field Update – 9/27/21

Coming up this Saturday (10/2/21) is a Waste Pesticide Collection Event held by the SCDA in York. Take a look at their news release here and take advantage of this event if you have any pesticides sitting around that you don’t expect to use.

Coastal Region

Zack Snipes reports, “We have had plenty of rain as of late in the Lowcountry. Many growers could not get in the fields due to fields being soggy. We have some beautiful weather coming this week so I expect a good bit of ground to be prepped and planted. We have plenty of moisture in the soil so those preemergent herbicides should have great efficacy if put down properly. I am seeing some odd yellowing symptoms of watermelon vines that lead to a collapse in the plant. We sent off samples to the Plant Diagnostic Lab. If you are suspicious of a plant disease, we can identify the disease for you. I also received a few calls this week about greenhouses. Before buying a greenhouse, consider retrofitting a shipping container. Thousands of transplants can be grown in a very small space which saves you money on your heating and cooling bill.”

A retrofitted shipping container for growing vegetable transplants at the CREC. Photo from Zack Snipes.
Thousands of transplants can be grown in near optimal conditions in a container. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We’ve really been enjoying the fall weather here in the midlands. We got some rain and the high temperatures have been in the upper 70s/low 80s. The majority of folks got their beds formed and plastic laid for strawberries last week. I’m getting some reports that strawberry nurseries are facing a tight supply this year. Hopefully, everyone got their orders in early. On brassicas, we’ve seen a significant increase in caterpillar population levels over the last week. That makes now a great time to run a field bioassay to screen for insecticide resistance in diamondback moth populations. Contact your local agent to schedule one.”

Tiny, oval, yellow-colored, diamondback moth eggs on the underside of a leaf of a week-old collard plant. Scout carefully as soon as plants go in the ground. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Phillip Carnley reports, “Brassica production is ramping up in Orangeburg and Calhoun and Clarendon counties. Diamondback caterpillar is making itself known in brassica crops, especially in collards. Make sure to scout early and treat in a timely fashion. If your insecticide program is not showing the desired level of control, talk with your local agent about scheduling a bioassay to assess your population’s resistance to different insecticides. Also, be on the lookout for black rot and other fungal problems in early transplants. Loopers seem to be a non-issue currently but stay vigilant in monitoring. I am still getting plenty of calls for pecans and the majority of the issues are pecan scab and yellow aphid damage, causing nut drop and premature defoliation. Also be mindful to monitor/ test for nematodes, in my area I am seeing population loading due to lack of cultural and chemical control. On blackberries, make sure to harvest in a timely manner and maintain a high level of sanitation, as there is plenty of spotted wing drosophila to go around.”

African Fig Flies (AFF)(with the white stripes) can invade small fruit crops simultaneously with spotted wing drosophila (SWD). Once the SWD cuts a hole in the fruit to lay an egg, the AFF comes along and lays an egg in the same hole. AFF can also invade strawberries and blackberries independent of SWD. Photo from Phillip Carnley.

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Last week’s rainfall really helped to moisten dry soils around the Pee Dee. Fall vegetable crops are coming along. Disease activity is low and insect activity is light to moderate. Surprisingly, diamondback moths have not been observed yet. Looper activity has been light to moderate on brassicas and cabbageworms have been observed in some fields. Aphids have been seen, as well. Stink bug activity has been moderate on okra. Okra harvest has begun to slow down, but decent volumes are still being harvested. Wine and juice muscadine harvest is complete, but some fresh market muscadines are still being picked in limited volumes. Most folks have bedded and fumigated for strawberries (… or will be this week). Talking to growers, it sounds like strawberry plants (plug and bare root) are getting a bit scarce… more so than normal for this time of the year. If you’re looking for some plants, you may have to go with varieties that you might not familiar with. Be sure to order early next year to get the varieties and volumes you need.”

Weekly Field Update – 9/20/21

Coastal Region

Rob Last reports, “Fall cucurbit crops, including cantaloupes, and watermelons are ripening and approaching harvest. Disease pressure from powdery mildew and gummy stem blight have really increased significantly over the last week. Maintaining a tight spray program will be key to managing disease. As we look forward to strawberry planting land is being prepared. If you are planning to fumigate, make sure the plant back interval between fumigation application and planting is maintained. A good test can be to plant some lettuce seed in the treated area. When lettuce germinates, the risk of damage from fumigation is reduced. Finally, on any remaining fall plantings, consider using a labeled pre-emergent herbicide to help with weed management. Once the crop and weeds emerge, options are drastically reduced.

Zack Snipes reports, “Land is being prepared and fall crops are going in around the Lowcountry. Early fall crops look better with the slightly cooler temperatures and periodic rain. We are wet in some parts. I am seeing lots of bacterial spot in the fall tomato crop. We have good herbicide management plans for greens, but folks will need to take advantage of pre-emergents now.”

Bacterial spot is bad this fall due to the consistent rain. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “This past week was fairly rainy. There are several fields that are pretty soft, even some sandy fields. Folks are still planting brassicas for the fall and they are looking really nice right now. Strawberry growers are also getting prepped to fumigate and lay plastic. We’ve been seeing a lot of damping off (Pythium) in young cucurbits and some brassicas lately. The wet weather is definitely creating the perfect conditions for this. A few things that can be done to help minimize damping off include planting on plastic beds, planting at the proper depth (just deep enough to cover the plug with native soil), rotating fields wisely (tomatoes are a host for Pythium), and using a fungicide at planting may also make sense when environmental conditions are right for Pythium development.”

When transplants are set deep like the one pictured here, the moisture in the soil creates favorable conditions for Pythium to develop all the way up the stem. Instead, set transplants just deep enough to cover the plug with native soil. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Phillip Carnley reports, “Cucumber production is in its final stages here in Orangeburg and Calhoun counties with most growers close to or in the process of harvesting. There is still a noticeable amount of cucurbit downy mildew, but due to the dryer weather it has been easier to keep in check. Sweetpotatoes are currently being dug with yields looking to be fairly good. There have been a few issues with wireworm damage in sweet potato fields with the majority of damage being seen on the lighter colored tubers. Diamondback caterpillar is ramping up in brassica crops, especially in collards. Make sure to scout early and treat in a timely fashion, if your insecticide program is not showing the desired level of control talk with your local agent about scheduling a bioassay to screen your population’s resistance to different insecticides. Also be on the look out for black rot and other fungal problems in early transplants.”

Holes bored into sweetpotato tubers by wireworms. Photo from Phillip Carnley.

Sarah Scott reports, “We received some heavy rain in areas throughout Edgefield and Aiken Counties last week, up to 2 inches in spots. In preparation for October planting, plastic has been laid in strawberry fields. Brassica crops are being planted as field conditions allow. Late summer plantings of broccoli are starting to get some good size on them. Pepper plants that were put out in August are setting fruit that is starting to size up nicely.”

Strawberry plastic laid and ready to go. Photo from Sarah Scott.
These broccoli plants were put out on September 2. Photo from Sarah Scott.
Fall peppers are sizing up nicely. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Weekly Field Update – 9/13/21

Coastal Region

Zack Snipes reports, “We had a heavy downpour of rain last week surpassing 2.5 inches in some spots. I am seeing downy mildew in cucumbers and lots of gummy stem blight in winter squash and pumpkins. The worm pressure has lessened in the past few weeks. I am seeing lots and lots of black rot in transplanted brassicas. Inspect your plants before planting them to make sure the disease is not coming from the nursery. Once a brassica is planted in the field, there is not much we can do to slow the spread except hope that environmental conditions (rain, humidity) are not conducive to spread the disease. I am also seeing lots of early weed pressure in fall planted crops on both bare-ground and plastic. We have some very good herbicide options to apply preplant. Once you plant the crop, we have very few herbicides that can be used over the top of the crop. Right now is the time to get down strawberry herbicides before the season starts. As the old proverb goes: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Black rot on collard transplant (V-shaped lesion on the margin) just waiting for the right environmental conditions to decimate your yields. Photo from Zack Snipes.
A healthy stand of sunnhemp shades out most, if not all, summer weeds reducing the weed seed bank. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We received about an inch of rain (at my house), which we really needed. The temperatures over the last week have been very mild and it has started to feel like fall. Fall crops are doing well. We’re still planting brassicas and keeping an eye on caterpillars. Muscadines are being harvested now. Growers are reporting good fruit quality, but lower yields than last year. This is most likely due to the late cold weather that affected muscadine growers across the state. On pecans, black aphid populations and scab incidence are both high. It appears both of these pests are going to significantly reduce yield on sensitive varieties if growers didn’t stay on top of sprays.”

Pecan scab is severe this year. This disease can cause the tree to abort infected nuts. Photo from Justin Ballew
Black aphids are very small, but their damage is easy to see on the leaves. Photo from Justin Ballew