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.”

Cucurbit Downy Mildew Found In SC

Cucurbit downy mildew was found in SC this week in Bamberg, Barnwell, and Calhoun Counties. In each case it was found on cucumbers and for now severity seems low. This is about two weeks earlier than in the past couple years.

Downy mildew symptoms on cucumber. Lesions are often limited by the veins in the leaves.
Dark-colored downy mildew spores developing on the underside of cucumber leaves.

If not already doing so, all cucumber and cantaloupe growers in SC should begin applying protective fungicides to help prevent or manage downy mildew. Ranman tank-mixed with a protectant, such as chlorothalonil or mancozeb, or applications of Zampro are good options for protecting plants prior to symptom development. For more info, see Dr. Tony Keinath’s CDM Management publication.

Are Hydrogen Peroxide Products Effective Fungicides?

From Clemson Plant Pathologist Dr. Tony Keinath.

Should products with hydrogen peroxide, alone or combined with peroxyacetic acid, be used like fungicides on vegetables? It’s difficult to give just one answer to this question because there are so many different vegetables and diseases to consider. Here are a few important things to think about.

  1. Hydrogen peroxide/peroxyacetic acid has no curative activity against any vegetable disease. Yes, it might look reassuring to see the dead centers drop out of leaf spots on tomato. The pathogen, however, is still in the leaf, where pathogens are naturally designed to live. All leaf pathogens—bacteria, fungi, and water molds—will survive inside the treated leaves.
  2. Hydrogen peroxide/peroxyacetic acid has no (or a very short) residual activity or “staying power” on leaves after spraying. Conventional fungicides usually will last up to the minimum spray interval on the label, normally 7 days. Biofungicides also leave a residue on the leaves for at least a few days after spraying; there hasn’t been as much research on this as on conventional fungicides. The fact that labels like Oxidate recommend two applications per week suggests that the residue lasts no more than 3 days.
  3. Oxidate did not control powdery mildew on cucurbit seedlings in the greenhouse. (Details available at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cropro.2012.06.009). There was absolutely no effect in any of four experiments. Unlike other fungi, powdery mildew grows mostly on the outside of the leaf, so it was completely exposed to Oxidate.
  4. The number of sprays per week needs to be considered when calculating the cost of hydrogen peroxide/peroxyacetic acid products. At $35/gallon and 1% solution, Oxidate costs $35/acre when sprayed twice a week at 50 gpa spray volume each time.

I recently tested Oxidate on kale affected with Alternaria leaf spot caused by the new species in South Carolina, Alternaria japonica. Oxidate (1%) was applied 2 days before harvest. Healthy leaves with no visible leaf spots were placed in sealed plastic bags with 100% relative humidity (RH) and stored at 41 F. for 1 week, then checked for disease symptoms. Based on two tests, 70% of Oxidate-treated leaves had Alternaria leaf spot, and 73% of water-treated control leaves did. That’s only a 5% improvement, and the difference is not statistically significant. Based on a kale price of $18/carton and 400 cartons/acre (for a once-over harvest), that’s an extra $359/acre.

Alternaria leaf spots that appeared a week after this kale was harvested and stored at proper storage temperatures. Photo from Dr. Tony Keinath

Oxidate might have some benefits sprayed immediately before harvest. After harvest, leaves aren’t exposed to more pathogen spores from the air, so the short residual time (hours) isn’t as limiting. Storing produce at less than 100% RH also might have made a difference with less disease overall.

For more information on Oxidate and vegetable diseases, see this list of trials with biofungicides approved for organic use with brief comments on efficacy: https://rvpadmin.cce.cornell.edu/uploads/doc_582.pdf.

Captan Could Be Scarce in 2021

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

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

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

Field Update – 6/8/20 (Downy Mildew Arrives in SC)

Statewide

Downy mildew was found in Charleston, SC late last week on cucumbers. This is the first confirmed report of the 2020 season. If not already doing so, all cucumber and canteloupe growers should begin applying protective fungicides to help prevent or manage downy mildew. Ranman tank-mixed with a protectant such as chlorothalonil, mancozeb, or Zampro is a good option for protecting plants prior to symptom development. For more info, see Dr. Tony Keinath’s CDM Management publication.

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Downy mildew symptoms on the top side of a cucumber leaf. Note that the spots are angular in shape and are delineated by the veins in the leaf. Photo from Justin Ballew.

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Dark-colored downy mildew spores developing on the underside of a cucumber leaf. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “It is a very busy time out in the fields. Every crop is coming in right now and folks are busting it to get crops out and keep the remaining crops healthy.  Keeping up with fertility, fungicide, insecticide, and herbicide programs can really help with the bottom line as now is when our crops need a little help. With the mild temperatures and cloudy, wet days last week, I saw some diseases appear and spread.  On tomato, I am finding increased bacterial spot that is starting to make plants turn yellow. This will cause a yield drag and the spots can be found on the fruit if the infection is not slowed down. Downy mildew was found in cucumber last week so be sure to be proactive and keep an eye out for that. I saw some other cucurbit diseases last week including gummy stem blight and Alternaria. The stink bug population has also increased in the past week or so with some damage showing up on tomato. Please refer to the 2020 Southeastern Crop Handbook for details on management programs for insects, diseases, and weeds.”

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Bacterial spot is increasing causing yellowing of the plants. Bacterial spot can reduce yields and develop spots on the fruit. Photo from Zack Snipes.

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Downy mildew found in cucumbers last week. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Last week was warmer and actually a little dry. Lots of irrigation has been running. Crops are progressing quickly. Strawberries are mostly done now. The silks on the earliest planted sweetcorn are browning and harvest isn’t far off. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, beans, and cucumbers are also progressing well. Downy mildew has been found in the state, so be sure to start preventative fungicide sprays on cucumbers.  Let us know if you’d like help scouting fields for downy.  Collards, cabbage, and kale are still being harvested and are looking good.”

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Silks are turning brown on the earliest sweet corn plantings. Photo from Justin Ballew.

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Tomatoes are developing well. It won’t be long before harvest starts. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Lalo Toledo reports, “Downy Mildew has been diagnosed in Charleston County. However, Downy Mildew has not been found in Orangeburg county.  Please be advised that it is a matter of time before we start seeing symptoms. Please refer to the vegetable handbook regarding fungicide applications. It’s recommended to stay on a Fungicide schedule and to apply protectants even before we start seeing symptoms. Bacterial Wilt on tomatoes is present in many fields in Orangeburg county. Please contact your local extension office for proper recommendations.”

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It’s only a matter of time before downy mildew shows up in cucurbits in Orangeburg County. Photo form Lalo Toledo.

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Field conditions really improved this past week. Cucumbers are being harvested in good volumes. Overall, quality is good. Downy mildew is starting to show up in cucumber fields that were affected by recent heavy rains. Squash and zucchini are beginning to be harvested, as well. Snap beans and southern peas are flowering heavily. Some acreage of snap beans were lost due to ponding caused by recent heavy rains. Many fields of sweet corn are tasseling well and beginning to silk. Watermelon, cantaloupe, and peppers are growing very well. Blueberry quality is beginning to improve. Much of the rain-damaged fruit has been removed. Currently, the blueberry crop looks good. Muscadine fruit set is good, but thrips and aphid activity is high, which could cause problems in yield. Scouting is necessary to determine pest presence and necessary insecticide application.”

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Downy mildew really showing up in rain-stressed fields. Photo from Bruce McLean.

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Snap beans affected by ponded water from recent heavy rains. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “Some areas got 10 inches of rain in one day. Hundreds of acres of beans and cucumbers are drowned. Cucurbit downy mildew is here on cucumbers. Weeds are awful.”

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “With heavy rains a few weeks ago, high humidity and heat this past week, we are seeing some disease problems pop up across the board… make sure you are following prevention practices that fit into your growing style. Conventional, organic, or somewhere in between, all growers should be managing disease through preventative measures. Crop rotation is arguably one of the most important strategies in an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program. If you’re a grower that hasn’t moved crops around within your site in years, now is that time!”

Andy Rollins reports finding black knot of plum. “Prune out these galled up branches as quickly as possible before they begin to sporulate. I also recommend sterilizing or at least sanitizing the pruners as much as is possible between cuts.  Treat with 2 lbs of Captan foliarly as soon as possible after pruning to try and keep those wounds free from other problems.  This problem can come in on the purchased trees, but can also come in from wild cherry trees or wild plum surrounding the orchard.  It is always a good thing to kill any and all wild cherry and plum trees directly adjacent to a commercial orchard.  Penn State has some good information here.”

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Black knot on plum branches should be pruned out before sporulation begins. Photo from Andy Rollins.

Downy Mildew found in SC

From Clemson Plant Pathologist Dr. Tony Keinath:

The first SC report of cucurbit downy mildew this year came on June 6 from a crop consultant, who found it on cucumbers in Bamberg County. Growers should spray all cucumber and cantaloupe crops to prevent or manage downy mildew. The cheapest downy mildew fungicide is Ranman. It can be tank-mixed with chlorothalonil, mancozeb, or tebuconazole to add protection against fungal leaf spots, like gummy stem blight and anthracnose, that will start to spread with the rain. Another option is Orondis Opti, a pre-mix of Orondis and Bravo (chlorothalonil). Watermelon growers should be spraying with protectants, as downy mildew has been spotted on watermelon in south Georgia.

Downy mildew lesions on cucumber leaf. Note how they are delineated by the veins in the leaf. Photo from Dr. Tony Keinath.

For more info on downy mildew management in cucurbit crops, refer to this fact sheet.