Weekly Field Update – 3/1/21

Don’t forget to check out the Upcoming Events page for all the meetings coming up over the next couple months. The next meetings will be the 2nd and 3rd peach sessions on Thursday 3/4. We hope to see you there!

Also, join us Tuesday from 11:30 to 12:00 for the new, weekly “SC Grower Exchange” where we’ll discuss a little more about what’s going on in the fields and take questions from the audience. Click here to join the discussion via Zoom.

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “Following a few days of warmer conditions, crops are moving on strongly. Flowering and fruit set is occurring in strawberry crops. At present spider mites in treated crops are at very low populations, but with warmer weather, populations can increase rapidly. As we are entering flowering and fruit set, sanitation and fungicide applications will be required to keep gray mold managed. Remember to rotate FRAC codes to avoid resistance build up. Fertigation is being applied and it will be well worth while taking a tissue test from crops. Blueberries in the area are showing bud swell with early varieties showing open flower.”

Zack Snipes reports, “With the warm and DRY weather last week and for most of the week this week, farmers have been able to get out and work in the fields. Spring crops are going in the ground where it is dry enough to plant. The warm weather this past week and this coming week will probably push 2020 brassicas to bolt (flower). If you have any left in the fields, it might be best to get them out as soon as possible. Stay on top of sanitation for berries and it’s time to start fertigating them if you haven’t started that already.”

Warm weather can cause collards that have grown through the winter to bolt (flower). This plant is just beginning to develop a flower head. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “We had several beautiful, warm days last week. Strawberry growers used that opportunity to pull the row covers off the fields, allowing the plants to catch some rays. Growth is starting to pick up and I’m seeing a good many blooms. The weather conditions are favorable now for Botrytis development (high moisture and temps in the 60s-70s), so we need to begin protecting our blooms with preventative fungicide sprays. Check out this great video put together by Dr. Guido Schnabel’s former student Madeline Dowling for a refresher on the Botrytis life cycle. Download the MyIPM app for more disease and fungicide information. Now is also a good time to start tissue sampling to make sure we’re fertigating the right amounts of nutrients.

Starting to see plenty of blooms on the strawberries around the midlands. Photo from Justin Ballew.
This dead flower is already developing Botrytis spores. Spore development is high when temperatures are in the 60 to 70 degree range and moisture is high. Start protecting blooms now. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “Growers took advantage of some sunny, dry weather and continued to apply copper and dormant oil sprays in peach fields to combat potential bacterial spot issues, as well as scale in the coming season. Pruning and orchard floor management continue as well as some late planting, due to wet field conditions. Strawberries have been covered to give them a pre-season push. Some mite issues are present but under control.”

Workers apply a dormant oil application on peach field in Edgefield Co. Photo from Sarah Scott.

Upstate

Kerrie Roach reports, “Growers are working between the rains to finish up pruning. The SC Apple Grower meeting was held on Thursday afternoon virtually with lots of great presentations and discussion. During the meeting, Dr. Mike Parker (NCSU) mentioned the distinct difference in apple and peach pruning, and how using the same crews can sometimes lead to problems. Peaches fruit laterally along limbs which means heading cuts (pruning off the tip of a branch) is the common and acceptable practice.  Where as apples fruit terminally, so heading cuts could potentially remove a significant amount of potential fruit. Make sure crews are well aware of the difference!”

Pruning apples at Hollifield’s Orchard with pneumatic pruners. Photo from Kerrie Roach.

Weekly Field Update – 2/15/21

Don’t forget to check out the Upcoming Meetings page for all the meetings coming up over the next couple months. There are 2 coming up this week: Strawberry Fertility Wednesday (2/17) and Produce Safety Rule Training on Thursday and Friday afternoon (2/18 and 2/19).  We hope to see you there!

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “I haven’t been out in the fields lately due to all of the rain. Hopefully it will dry out some this week as we really need some bluebird sky days. If and when you are able to get out in the strawberry fields, it is time to put out boron. Boron helps with flower and fruit development. If you miss this application you will have lots of “bull nose” fruit in a few weeks. We recommend 1/8 lb of actual boron. Please see the picture for calculations of different products. Be extremely careful with mixing, calibrating, and applying boron as boron is a great herbicide if overapplied. Boron can be sprayed or run through the drip system.

Be sure to put out the correct amount of boron. Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “It’s been raining a lot since Thursday (2/11) here in the midlands. The soil is saturated in some of the less sandy areas and it will be a while before fields are dry enough to work. Sandier areas likely won’t be delayed much. Before the rain came, folks were harvesting some nice looking greens, though I am seeing some disease pop up in places. Strawberries are still coming along. I know of one fairly large grower that has already started protecting blooms. More will probably start soon.”

Good looking mustard ready for picking. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Sarah Scott reports, “It has been extremely wet throughout Aiken and Edgefield Counties the past week, making field work challenging. In peach orchards, we are continuing to prune and trying to get out dormant oil applications and copper. It appears there is a shortage of Captan this year. There are alternatives for use during bloom as well as at petal fall, just something to look into if you usually use this product. You can read about some alternatives here https://site.extension.uga.edu/peaches/2021/02/captan-shortage/ . Again, it looks like we will have plenty of chill hours for the crop this year with Musser Farm sitting at over 1000 and around 950 hours in Johnston.”

Weekly Field Update – 1/19/21

Remember to check out the “Upcoming Events” tab for upcoming meetings. The next one is this Wednesday (1/21/21) at 6pm. Dr. Brian Ward will be discussing fertility for organic crops.

Statewide

Dr. Matt Cutulle reports, “Burndown herbicide efficacy can be reduced in colder weather, especially systemic products such as glyphosate (Reduced translocation in the cold means herbicide does not move through the plant as much). A contact herbicide like Gamoxone is not significantly impacted by cold weather, thus it might be a good option to use on medium to small weeds. If you have to use glyphosate make sure that the formulation is loaded with a non-ionic surfactant (NIS) and then add 2.5% Ammonium Sulfate (AMS).  If the glyphosate formulation is not loaded with NIS, added an NIS product (should contain at last 90% active ingredient) such as Induce at 0.25% (quarter of 1%) in the tank mix.”

Coastal

Zack Snipes reports, “Now is the perfect time to gear up for the upcoming season with preventative maintenance on sprayers and tractors.  Proper spray coverage is absolutely essential when spraying expensive pesticides and nutrients.  Why would you buy a jug of pesticide for $800 and not have it properly applied?  I was at a farm last week working on a spray trial and we took a few hours to clean out screens, filters, and orifices in the sprayer.  The sprayer I was working on had 5 out of 10 nozzles completely clogged and corroded.  We would only get half or less coverage since the nozzles were so clogged.  Once we cleaned everything, we needed to recalibrate our sprayer since we were actually putting out product through all of the nozzles.  Take the time and get things ready for the year.”

Proper spray coverage on a nice looking crop of strawberries.  Photo from Zack Snipes.

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “Last week stayed pretty cool (high temps in the 50s), wet, and cloudy. Crops aren’t growing very fast right now. We still have a few greens being harvested, but we’ve slowed down from the New Years rush. Most of the strawberries I’ve looked at are still around the 2-3 crown stage. We’re seeing some aphids here and there, but those are rarely anything to be concerned about. Instead, keep checking for mites. Spider mites are active when daytime temperatures are over 50 degrees, so even though it’s chilly to us, they’re active for most of the winter. Fields planted adjacent to tomatoes back in the fall need to be scouted especially well.”

Great stand of rye between the rows of this strawberry field. This will help tremendously with weed suppression. Photo from Justin Ballew.

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Be sure to get out and scout your strawberries. Starting to see a fair amount of Phomopsis in the fields. Captan will give some control, but Rally is a better option. Also, starting to see some Botrytis showing up on ripening fruit… that fruit that has been able to escape frost events and develop. Removal of infected fruit and dead leaves will help reduce pathogen when it comes time to flower and fruit. Across the northern portion of the Pee Dee the strawberry crop is pretty varied in development and appearance. Some plantings are well behind others. This is primarily due to the frequent and heavy rains since planting. Any plants that may have been set (even the least bit) low, experienced loose soil to be washed down around the crown, burying the crown too deep. With the crown being buried, the plants were either stunted or killed. Stunted plants can recover, but likely will not develop and yield properly come spring. Now is the time to begin winter pruning of blueberries, blackberries and muscadines… as well as many fruit trees. Proper winter pruning will go a long way towards improving yield, plant health, overall plant architecture and size management. Ideally, winter pruning for perennial fruiting plants should be performed between early January through early March.”

Botrytis already showing up on strawberries. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “Wet, wet, wet.  Badly need to start bedding for stale-bed-culture.  Putting off bedding sweet potatoes until March.  I have seen a lot of spider mites on strawberries and started to spray to get them under control.  However, too wet to get tractor in fields so many farmers are using backpack mist sprayers to get job done.”

Weekly Field Update 8/24/20

Statewide

Dr. Tony Keinath reports, “For the past few years, Orondis Opti on cucumber and cantaloupe and Orondis Ultra on pumpkin and watermelon have been the best fungicides to manage downy mildew. Based on results from a spring 2020 cucumber experiment at Coastal REC, Orondis is no longer the “silver bullet” it was 2 years ago. In my experiment, Orondis Opti rotated with Bravo controlled downy mildew in the early part of the season, but disease increased significantly during the latter part of the season and ended up higher than expected. Part of the shortcoming of the Orondis Opti/Bravo spray program was the Bravo rotation. Bravo sprayed by itself every other week did not control downy mildew at all, so spraying Orondis Opti/Bravo acted like Orondis Opti sprayed every other week, which was not enough. The labels for Orondis Opti and Orondis Ultra say they must be rotated with another fungicide. For the rest of the 2020 season, use Orondis Opti/Ranman + chlorothalonil on cucumber and cantaloupe, and Orondis Ultra rotated with Gavel or Ranman + chlorothalonil on pumpkin and watermelon. Always use the high rate (2.5 pints/acre) of Orondis products. Note that the mancozeb in Gavel or adding chlorothalonil helps to manage other foliar diseases like gummy stem blight and anthracnose. Yield data and input costs from my experiment are being analyzed to see if spraying Orondis leads to a higher net return despite the higher cost of this fungicide. Results will be presented at the virtual Cucurbit meeting in February 2021 to help growers plan downy mildew fungicide programs for the 2021 season.”

Cucurbit downy mildew continues to spread across the state.

Coastal

Rob Last reports, “Fall crops continue to grow well in the area.  Given the current weather patterns pests and disease are active in some crops particularly where there are volunteers remaining from previous crops.  Vigilance will be required in scouting an pesticide management programs.  If In doubt scout.”

Midlands

Justin Ballew reports, “It’s been cool, cloudy, and kind of pleasant outside this past week, though that has the vegetable crops growing a little slower. We’ve gotten some decent rains in most areas around the midlands as well. Bacterial spot is really showing up on fall tomatoes as a result of all the recent rain. It could be a bad fall for bacterial spot if the weather stays like this. Caterpillars are already out there on fall brassicas. It doesn’t take long once they’re planted. Start scouting, scout often, and rotate insecticides. Remember to contact one of us about screening your farm for insecticide resistance in diamondback moths once you start seeing populations build up.”

Bacterial spot and speck start on the bottom of the plant and can be splashed onto higher leaves and fruit by rain drops. Photo from Justin Ballew.
Start scouting for caterpillars as soon as your fall brassicas are planted. Photo from Justin Ballew

Pee Dee

Bruce McLean reports, “Both fruit and vegetable development has slowed a bit due to cloudy conditions. Sunny conditions needed. Sweetpotatoes are sizing well and will be ready for harvest soon. Fall cucumbers and squash should soon be ready to start harvesting. Fall brassicas are being planted now. Muscadine crop is getting close to harvest. Noble is around 90% ripe; Carlos is around 60%; Doreen is still around 25%. Brix (sugar content) is off due to rain and cloudy conditions. Noble and Carlos brix are averaging around 11% with a low of 9.2% and a high of 15.0%. Doreen is averaging less than 10%. Did find a few Doreen that brix was over 19%… candy. Sunny conditions definitely needed.”

Noble muscadines around 90% ripe. Photo from Bruce McLean.

Tony Melton reports, “Beginning to harvest processing sweet potatoes but some have been stunted and delayed by excessive rain.  Spraying processing peas for cowpea curculio.  Starting to plant processing greens by seed.  Even though lots of rain and having to mud through fields cucumbers for pickles are being harvested and still being planted.”

Upstate

Andy Rollins reports, “Blueberry pruning is best served for the dormant time of year late January-late February.  I met with a commercial grower who was anxious about getting started early partly because he has many plants completely unproductive for the second year in a row. I like to call this revenge pruning as that is the primary motivation. Be careful, you could end up hurting yourself more in the long run. In his case, it was all about light and proper pruning to encourage light down through the canopy. The orignial spacing of Rabbiteye type varieties was very close so we also considered killing every other plant to get more light into the bushes but this would not replace the need for properly selectively removing a few of the oldest canes each year, spacing them out so there is better light penetration. For a detailed explanation, please see NCSU Blueberry specialist Bill Cline’s presentation.”